Helping Your Dog or Cat Lose Weight
Weight loss and control consist of four steps: proper diet, proper portions, exercise and the quantity and quality of treats.
Weight loss programs for animals are the same as those for people – eat less and exercise more. High quality nutrition is the best way to help your pet lose the extra pounds. If you are feeding an all raw diet, you are providing the best diet already for proper weight management – just feed less. If you are feeding some kibble, just reduce the amount of kibble fed.
Cookie is a Corgi, they are known for their appetite and being over weight. She stays in a very healthy weight range on Darwin’s. Most people think she is years younger than she is. She has had cancer, so I wanted the very best in nutrition to give her body a fighting chance to keep it at bay. So far we are at three years and counting. I attribute having the proper live enzymes and anti antioxidants that are so abundant in raw food as the extra defense we have in our corner to help her maintain a happy and healthy dog. – Kaye K., Maine
Recommended feeding amounts are just that, recommended. Every animal is unique and when choosing how much to feed your dog or cat, consider how active they are.
Even dogs with a 20 pound difference in size could eat the same portion as each other at every meal because maybe one is much more active and spends most of the day outside, whereas the other likes the sofa. They also need less food in the winter than in the summer when they are more active.
Cats and small dogs need very small portions – sometimes less than an ounce per meal. It may look like hardly any food to you, but it will be plenty to meet your companion’s needs. Monitor his weight regularly so you will notice if he is losing too much too fast and can adjust the amount you feed slightly.
Exercise provides much more than just an increase in calorie usage. It contributes to the quality of your relationship with your companion as well as improving his mental health, cardiovascular health and increasing his longevity. For dogs this can be as simple as a 15 or 20 minute walk twice a day. A trip to the local off-leash dog park can provide even more fun and exercise.
Cats are a bit trickier to exercise, especially overweight cats as they tend to feel less energetic and playful. Try a wide variety of toys – both interactive toys that you can use to stimulate your cat, and some toys that might encourage her to play when you are away. Catnip can help stimulate your kitty to play more. If she tires or gets bored easily, then start with shorter play sessions in the beginning and try to gradually increase the play periods. An outdoor space for your cat can contribute to both their physical activity and mental health. Provide climbing branches or structures for strength building if possible. If you live in an apartment – get the biggest cat tree you can fit in the space available.
It is difficult for most guardians to eliminate treats – especially those guardians who are well trained (or rather who have trained their animals well). If you have rewarded your friend for begging, he will continue to beg and learn to beg harder. Since treats provide enjoyment for both of you, just change the quantity and quality to meet the weight loss program. Break the treats into smaller pieces – no larger than the size of a pea. A taste is all that is needed to give your friend a reward or special treat. Use high-quality all or mostly meat treats and avoid those high in carbohydrates. Reduce the amount you feed at each meal by the amount of treats you have fed that day.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Once you have helped your companion reach a healthier weight, you can slightly increase the food portion to maintain that weight. Continue to watch her closely – feeling for ribs and looking for a waist, and weighing her if possible on a regular basis. Remember to adjust the amount you feed to her activity level – don’t keep feeding a cup per meal in the winter if she is inside more and less active.
In the long run your pet will be happier and more active when kept at an appropriate weight. He will be healthier and will likely live longer as well. Weight control is well worth the time and effort for the long-term health of your companion.
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