Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Help Your Dog or Cat Lose Weight

By Linda Cole

An overweight dog or cat can struggle with many of the same health concerns overweight people have to deal with. There's nothing wrong with giving your pet a few TidNips treats now and then, especially when training, but we need to understand the importance of exercise and maintaining a proper and healthy weight for our pets just as much as we do with our own weight. An obese pet is no laughing matter.

It's not as easy as you might think to help your dog or cat lose weight. Let's face it, cats spend a good deal of their time sleeping, which is normal for them. Trying to get a cat motivated to exercise will mean you need to play with her. You have to be careful, however, and not allow her to lose weight too quickly because cats can easily develop a very serious disease called Fatty Liver Disease that's hard to treat and can be life threatening. The cause is unknown, but obesity is suspected to play a role.

One out of every four dogs and cats are overweight. Here's a simple way to help you determine if your pet is too heavy. Rub your hand down along your pet's side, under the hair. If you can feel their ribs, they aren't overweight. However, if you can't feel their ribs it's time to consider a weight loss program, but only after your vet has had a chance to give them a checkup. Weight issues in dogs can be associated with Cushing's disease or hypothyroidism. A checkup is a must to make sure your pet is healthy enough for an increase in exercise and to discuss a proper feeding schedule.

Overweight dogs and cats don’t deserve lower quality ingredients to lose weight; they simply need your help in providing them with the proper amount of high quality food. If you're already feeding your pet CANIDAE or FELIDAE, you know the benefits of providing a well balanced, natural and healthy diet. Pets that eat a premium quality food like CANIDAE or FELIDAE don't have to eat as much in order to feel full. Along with proper exercise, a high quality food can help keep your pet at their recommended weight.

Veterinarians agree that being overweight can be a detriment to canine and feline health. If you have a pudgy pet, don't over-indulge in treats, and feed them a high quality premium food designed specifically for overweight and less active pets, like CANIDAE Platinum for dogs and FELIDAE Platinum for cats. These two formulas were designed to provide complete and balanced premium nutrition with less fat and fewer calories, so pets can achieve their recommended weight without sacrificing on nutrition or essential vitamins and minerals.

Exercise can also help your overweight pet slim down, and it’s a great way to spend quality time together. If your dog isn't used to a daily walk, start by going around one block and then slowly increase the distance. Playing fetch, tug of war, hide-and-seek or any favorite game can help work off extra pounds. However, make sure you don't overwork an obese pet.

Most cats love to play with their owner. If you aren't in the habit of playing, now would be a good time to start if your cat has put on extra pounds. It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes a day, and it can make a big difference. Another option is to fix up a ‘play box’ for your cat. Take a cardboard box or build one out of wood, then cut three or four holes in the top and on all four sides. The holes should be just large enough for your curious cat to stick her paws through. Put ping pong balls, catnip toys or any cat friendly toy in the enclosed box and stand back while she explores with her paws. Change the toys every so often to keep the box interesting. Make sure whatever you put in the box can't be pulled out by your cat's paws.

We are the ones who control how much food our pets eat. We are also responsible for making sure our pets get enough exercise each day to help keep them healthy. It's not always easy to do, but that is part of the responsibility we accepted when we brought them into our home. Obesity in pets is a serious problem, but we can help them lose weight with a quality food and enough exercise. As a bonus, the exercise is good for us too!

Dog photo by Jeremy Vandel
Cat photo by Dan Perry

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. NOt easy is so right. Mom wants to get about 5 pounds of Thunder. He is hypothyroidic but has only dropped a couple of pounds since going on meds. He gets a minimal amount of a good quality kibble and lots of green beans. Dad is the guilty one here, always dropping us a tidbit here and there. Mom can't convince him to stop. She will keep working at it.

    Thanks for the info.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  2. It is hard to keep the pounds off some of the animals. I have a couple of cats that need to lose some weight and we are having a hard time getting it done. But it is a work in progress.

  3. I am always amused by advice to play with cats 15 mins a day. My cat doesn't want to stop until at least a half hour has gone by, and usually we play for an hour in the evenings while the dogs chill.

  4. Our Happy is 20 to 22 years old and she is very thin and has to be coached to eat. She is a wonderful drinker tho. She never wants to play any more and hasn't for 3 years. All she wants to do is sleep!!

  5. It seems that obesity in pets reflects the fact many more people are obese! Good post! Austin, happily, is like a latt :)


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