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Maybe it’s the frequent naps instead of playing fetch, or the snacks from the kitchen table. Maybe it’s a mixture of genetics and sore hips. Whatever it is, it’s not uncommon for pets to develop a weight issue as a result. Though a little extra weight isn’t a huge deal, a lot of extra weight can lead to serious health problems for your furry family member. For this reason, it’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s weight to ensure it doesn’t get out of control. If it does, there are ways to help your pet lose the weight.
Weight control is important because being overweight can lead to other problems, just like humans. Whether you’re trying to be proactive before a weight issue happens, or your pet has already packed on the pounds, weight control is just one of the many costs of owning a pet. The first step is to talk to your vet and get their advice on how to handle their weight gain. Work on feeding a healthy diet, avoiding table scraps, and prioritizing exercise, and your animal can get back to a healthy weight in no time.
Why Weight Control is Important
Obesity is a nationwide epidemic. Many of the reasons for weight issues in people are the same for animals. Consuming too many calories and participating in minimal exercise can lead to significant weight gain. Age, certain diseases, and genetics also play a factor. The result can mean many health concerns for your pet. Arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer are just a few issues found in overweight animals.
Unlike humans, though, animals don’t know how to manage their own diet and monitor their intake and exercise. Additionally, humans are able to articulate pain related to weight gain, but animals aren’t always able to communicate these problems. This is why it’s important for pet owners to act as an advocate for their pet and keep their weight down. If you do notice a health issue with your pet as a result of their weight, or perhaps causing their weight gain, it’s important to reach out to your vet.
Talking to Your Vet
Talking to your vet should be the first step in the process to help your pet lose weight. Keeping up with an annual checkup will ensure that you and your vet stay on top of their weight before it gets out of control. Your vet will be able to tell you the possible cause of their weight gain to help aid in their weight loss success. For instance, if your pet has a thyroid issue, it’s important to treat that, or other means of managing their weight won’t work as well. Similarly, they may be able to diagnose an injury that may be making exercise painful for your pet, which could be the hidden cause of their weight gain. All of these variables make a vet visit very important in your pet’s weight loss journey.
Not only is it important to discover the cause of your pet’s weight gain by going to your vet, it’s also important to discover if there are any health concerns as a result of your pet’s weight gain. For instance, obesity can lead to vein disease in people as well as dogs. In dogs it’s called phlebitis. This disease can be painful, which is why it’s important to have a vet diagnose and treat it before trying to get your dog to be more active and lose weight on your own.
Weight Control Diet
Your vet should be able to suggest a brand or type of food that will help your pet lose weight, as well as an appropriate amount. Picking the right food has to do with their size and age, but you should also talk to your vet about the ingredients that are important for your pet, specifically. Whatever food you and your vet choose, be sure you’re easing your pet into the change. Many animals need to be eased into a food change so that their system doesn’t react negatively. Take a few weeks to mix your new food in, adding a bit more each day. Pay attention to portion sizes and follow the suggested amount for the weight of your animal or the portion size that your vet recommends.
Avoiding Table Scraps
Snacks, treats, and scraps can be a big problem in terms of weight control for your pet. Something like a lean piece of turkey, raw pumpkin, or raw carrots are probably okay treats for your pet from time to time, but scraps from the table are rarely this healthy. Not only that, but it can deter them from eating their own food. Too many snacks or treats carry the same issues, so it’s important to indulge your pet responsibly. One great way to improve your dog’s health and help them lose weight is to pay attention to what you feed them, and that includes unhealthy snacking. The same is true for your cat and any other type of pet you may have.
Exercise is such an important aspect of an animal’s life. Not only does it provide fun and enriching experiences, it also keeps them healthy and helps to control their weight. Using a laser pointer for your cat, a wheel for your rodent, or a daily walk for your dog can do wonders for their weight loss. For older dogs, it may be harder to convince them to exercise, so be sure they aren’t experiencing pain that can dissuade them from activity by visiting your vet. The same is true for older cats, horses, etc. If their weight makes it harder for them to exercise, work on starting slow or using low-impact exercises like swimming.
The reason for your pet’s weight gain can be attributed to many different factors, but it’s up to you to help them lose the weight. Not only should you visit your vet to be sure a health issue isn’t causing their weight gain, or that their weight hasn’t triggered a health issue, you should also work with them at home to eat healthier and move more. This will help to keep your pet healthier and happier for longer. Though it may be sad to see them beg for scraps with their sweet eyes, it’ll be better for them in the long run.