The New Year is here. While you may have your own personal resolutions and goals for 2019, we thought it would be helpful to focus on the furrier members of your family.
By most estimates, over half of our nation’s dog and cats are overweight. That’s over 80 million pets at risk for developing obesity related diseases like diabetes, kidney and heart disease, and cancer. Here are 8 easy tips for promoting weight loss and healthier lifestyle for our pets:
1. Count those Calories!
This may seem like a simple first step, but it can quickly get complicated. How many daily calories does your furry friend need? If you rely solely on your Pet Food bag, chances are you are overfeeding. Not only do they tend to recommend bigger-than-needed portions, but they also are formulated for young pets which haven’t been spayed or neutered. If your dog is older, spayed or neutered, and not as active: they probably don’t need the recommended portion size.
As a starting point, you can divide your pet’s weight by 2.2, multiply the result by 30, and finally add 70. That should give you an idea of how many calories are needed per day. But, be sure to consult your veterinarian about what food and portion is best for your individual pet.
2. Consistency in Feeding
Measure. Measure. Measure. Aside from being misled by labels, many pet owners are overfeeding their pets simply by not consistently measuring their meals. Keeping the bowl full all day or eyeballing the correct amount can be widely inconsistent. Worryingly, a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has shown that every 10 extra kibbles of food per day results in a pound of yearly weight gain for indoor cats and small dogs. Break out that measuring cup!
3. Treating with Intelligence
One area that always results in pets packing on pounds is treats. While cutting out ALL treats is unnecessary (and not fair to your furry friend!), being smart about giving out treats is critical. Too many are just junk food. Your dog may temporarily like the taste, but these sugar and fat filled snacks are doing long term damage to their health. Single ingredient treats like Bully Sticks are a great solution which will satisfy your dog’s taste buds without causing adverse health risks. Other great long lasting options include Antler Chews or Himalayan Yak Chews (which have only a few ingredients: Milk, Lime, and Salt). Indulge with confidence!
4. Kitchen Hacks
In a pinch, there are some great treat-alternatives that are probably sitting in your refrigerator right now. Vegetables like baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, and cucumbers are healthy, crunchy snacks that your pet will love. Fruits likes sliced apples and bananas are also great options. If you are looking for a crunchy reward that’s completely calorie-free, ice cubes are perfect!
5. Health Supplements
It’s hard to get your pets all the nutrients and minerals that they need to maintain a healthy metabolism. Most pets (and humans) can benefit from an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. It has been proven to help prevent and treat numerous diseases. To improve overall joint health and mobility, Glucosamine and Chondroitin are a fantastic option. Hemp Oil has similar benefits, along with natural chlorophyll that aides in digestion.
6. No More People Food!
Even if you measure every last kibble, and treat responsibly, there is one activity that will be sure to ruin any weight loss efforts: feeding your pets people food! While there are some great alternative treats already in your kitchen (check #4), giving your pet the last bite of your hamburger or a piece of that cake is always a bad idea. Canine digestive systems are fundamentally different than our own, and often cannot process food the same way. Aside from weight gain, this can cause diarrhea, vomiting, or even kidney stones.
7. Regular Exercise
The most obvious (and effective) way to burn off extra calories? Exercise. Dogs yearn for discipline, companionship, and exercise. A regular walk can make both pet and owner healthier AND help strengthen the bond between the two. Whether you need a collar, leash, or poop-bags for your new walking routine, DTPS has you covered. For cat owners, entertainment with a laser pointer, remote controlled toy, or ball of paper is all the exercise needed for most indoor felines.
We have a responsibility to take care of our pet’s health, but that doesn’t have to mean that they must suffer. By replacing unhealthy treats with healthy, long lasting chews and adding in regular exercise you can simultaneously improve your pet’s health and happiness.