Seasonal weight gain is a time honored tradition over the holidays for many of us but for our pets it can be serious business. With all the great food and family gatherings, it is not uncommon to put on a few extra pounds (to keep warm during the winter months… of course). When things start to warm up a bit, people have the option to go to the gym or hop on the treadmill, but our pets rarely go off on their own accord to get proper exercise. Statistically speaking, about 40% of dogs in the US are considered overweight dogs, and pet owners find it difficult to encourage their pets to lose weight.
We have collected 5 quick and easy steps to get your cat on the right track to shedding those holiday pounds:
Set a weight goal and deadline.
Organization and follow through are the keys to any successful attempt at weight loss. This is important for pets too. First decide how much your obese cat needs to lose in order to be a sleak kitty. Then pick a reasonable deadline in which to lose that extra weight. This will help you and your furry friend stay focused.
Cut down or cut out treats for a while.
While your pet is attempting to shed a couple pounds it is a good idea to cut way down or stop giving them fatty treats. They might be pretty irritated and whiny at first, but this is a great way to get down to and maintain a healthy weight. It can require a little tough love, but your overweight dogs will benefit from a more nutritionally balanced diet.
Increase activity and exercise time.
Add a couple blocks to your walk or go a little further down the road. Extended walks and play times will be good exercise for you and your pets. There are indoor dog walking facilities in many towns and cities if you live in a cold climate. During the spring and summer months you can visit your local outdoor park or hike your favorite trail. You can try bringing out the cat toys or playing chase with an obese cat to get them moving.
Make play-time a form of praise.
Since you are cutting down on treats anyway, try to turn play time into a reward for doing well. Pets love the one-on-one attention they receive when you take the time to play a little while. Even throwing their favorite toy around the house for 15 minutes can burn a lot of calories and strengthen the bond between owner and pet. To your overweight dogs, play-time is fun and not a chore.
Switch to a dietary, low fat/high fiber feeding schedule.
First thing first, when changing your pet’s diet it is very important to change the food gradually each day over about a week. You will be looking for a more nutritional food then that you use currently. The ones that are low in fat and high in fiber can provide the best results. There are several brands that provide their own line of “dietary” products for overweight dogs or an obese cat. Simply ask you veterinarian's advice if you are unsure about which brand or type of pet food to buy.
The holidays are a great time of celebration for both pet owners and their pals. It is important to bounce back and stay healthy for the rest of the year. It will help you enjoy many more holidays to come!
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