Leaner dogs and cats live longer than overweight dogs and cats and have less of the following health problems.
- Skin Disease
- Grooming Difficulties (mainly cats)
- Digestive Disorders
- Difficulty Breathing
- Heart Disease
- Pancreatitis Heat Intolerance
- Decreased Liver Function
- Decreased immune function
Most of us can recognize when animals are really overweight, but it is important to try and make changes before the signs are too obvious and the problem becomes really big. Here are a few tips:
- Check the ribs. In short-haired dogs and cats you should see some outline of the ribs. In long-haired pets you should be able to feel the ribs under their coat.
- Check the waist. Like humans, the waist is the first thing to disappear when a pet gains too much weight. Both dogs and cats should have a narrowing between the ribs and the hind legs when seen from above, and a noticeable tuck when seen from the side.
- Does your pet jiggle when they walk or run? The layer of fat under the skin allows the skin to move more when they are moving, or when you are petting them. Cats often deposit more fat in the upper chest, so look and feel between their front legs.
A good place to start in helping your pet lose weight is to know how much you are feeding them. Measure their daily food consumption in cups, cans, or by weight. It is very important that you include all the treats you are giving your pet in the measurement. This includes biscuits, chews, bread, and stuff off of the table.
Measuring food consumption by weight is best because it is easier to include all the treats given. It is helpful if you can convert the amount of food given into calories, but if most of the food given to your pet is a prepared food, this is not necessary.
Switching foods to achieve weight loss is not always necessary. There are cases where changing foods is not practical, especially if the pet is on a special diet for a reason.
If you don’t know the fat level in a treat, consider skipping it – especially if your pet is overweight. With most pets, the interaction with you is usually more important than the size of the treat.
More important than measuring calories consumed by your pet is to measure his or her weight.
Decide if you are going to change to a weight loss food or stay on the current food.
- Weigh your pet.
- Increase their daily activity.
- Add up how much food your pet is eating, by weight, cups, or cans.
- Feed for 2 weeks, then weigh your pet again.
At the start of their weight loss program, weigh your pet every 2 weeks. Once you have established they are losing weight at the proper rate, you can weigh once a month. It helps to keep a weight loss chart to monitor progress. Be patient, if the pet is 25% to 30% overweight it may take months to achieve full results.