Weight-Loss Strategy for Obese Cats & Dogs

According to a new study, the feline and canine obesity epidemic is nearly as bad as the human one. Here’s how to keep your pet healthy.

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Obesity in pest is nearly as rampant as human obesityIf you want to keep your pets fit and trim, you need to be proactive in feeding a healthy diet and getting them lots of exercise:

Know the calorie count of your pet’s favorite food. The only way to know the calorie count is to call the manufacturer, Dr. Ward says. Once you know, you can talk to your vet about how much a pet should be eating. “Your vet knows your lifestyle and will be able to make good recommendations that are more accurate than the feeding guides on the package,” he adds. Or you can get a better idea of what your pet’s daily caloric needs are using this chart on APOP’s website.

Learning to make your own healthy homemade pet food and pet treats allows you to control the quality and the calorie content of what your pet eats.

Measure the food. “Very few owners actually measure out the food,” Dr. Ward says. “They just eyeball it.” And that leads to mindless eating, just like with people. “People think that dogs will stop eating when they’re full. But that’s not the case,” he adds. “If you put food in front of them, they’ll eat it.”

Exercise with your dog. Exercise is particularly important for dogs, says Dr. Ward. “With cats, weight is influenced about 90 percent by diet, 10 percent by exercise. With dogs, it’s 60 percent diet, 40 percent exercise.” And just like people, dogs need between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Take him outside for a walk, to catch a Frisbee—whatever it takes to keep your dog moving; if you need ideas, watch our video on how to exercise with your pet. Don’t just open the back door and let him “play” alone in the back yard, though. “People think they can just let a dog outside for an hour each day, and it’ll get exercise. But the dog goes out there, sniffs around, and then just lies down because there’s nothing to do,” Dr. Ward says.

Entertain your cat. Cats have different evolutionary instincts towards activity than dogs do, Dr. Ward says, so exercising them requires a different approach. “Cats don’t move around much. They stalk their prey and then do a full-on sprint, leaping and lurching, in these 90-second bursts of activity,” he says. So you have to engage their natural predatory instinct. Have a laser pointer that they can chase on a wall, or get your kid’s remote-control car and have the cat chase it. Balls and wadded-up pieces of paper that they can stalk are good exercise tools, as well. Dr. Ward recommends playing with cats two to three times a day for about five minutes at a time. That will give them all the activity they need.

Courtesy of Rodale.com

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