We want to keep our pets in the family for as long as possible. And maintaining their health is critical in helping them live long, happy lives. Yet, today over 60% of pets in the United States are clinically obese. Extra weight can lead to conditions like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer for our dogs and cats. This is a scary reality that many pet parents face, but it’s an issue that we can work together to solve.
We checked in with Dr. Katy Nelson, Freshpet friend and veterinarian, to help put together some advice on managing your loved one’s weight and how Freshpet recipes can help! Here’s what she had to say:
Why Maintaining a Healthy Weight is Important for Our Little Ones
Sometimes, we think of pudgy pups and kitties as cute, fluffy, or even big boned. But the reality of the situation is that that extra weight can really do damage to their general health. When our fur-kids are overweight, they’re lugging around extra pounds that create a sedentary lifestyle, or put extra strain on their heart and joints. To avoid dangerous conditions like diabetes, it is important to keep their weight in check.
How To Determine if Your Fur-Kid is Overweight
If you suspect your pet is overweight, I highly recommend scheduling an initial appointment with a veterinarian to analyze your pet’s body weight. However, there are a few simple tests that you can use at home to see if a check-up is necessary.
One quick test is to put your hands around your dog or cat’s rib cage. When pressing down gently, you should be able to feel his or her ribs. If you have to put a significant amount of effort and really dig in to feel the rib cage, he or she may be carrying excess weight. Another commonly used test is to look at your pet’s chest – if his chest is not deeper than his belly, he may be overweight.
How Freshpet Can Help Your Loved One Avoid Obesity
One of the first things to consider when helping your pet avoid weight gain is his or her diet. Foods high in carbohydrates, like many dry kibbles or treats, can be difficult for pets to digest and cause excess weight gain. Freshpet recipes are great for weight loss or prevention because they are low in carbs, high in meat content and do not contain simple carbohydrates like corn or white rice. Many of Vital Slice and Serve Rolls or Complete Meals are grain-free, and Freshpet Select Slice and Serve Rolls are made with complex carbs like brown rice, which is high in fiber and helps our loved ones feel fuller, longer.
Obesity in our pets is not always due to food content, but rather food quantity. As pet parents, it is our responsibility to effectively exercise portion control when feeding our pups and kitties. Freshpet Slice and Serve rolls have portion measurements that are easy to use, thus helping follow Feeding Guidelines and manage portion sizes.
How You Can Help Your Pet Lose Weight
The first step to help your fur-kid lose weight is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Typically, the vet will do a general examination and possibly blood work to rule out any underlying health issue leading to excess weight.. Each pup or kitty is different, and your veterinarian can help identify the specific causes, or resulting conditions, that may be resulting in his or her obesity.
When meeting with your veterinarian, be sure to discuss suggested changes to your pup or kitty’s diet, as well as calorie counting. The goal should be to establish your little one’s ideal weight, then work backwards from there to chose a target daily caloric intake. It is important to note that simply because the Feeding Guidelines may suggest a certain portion size, doesn’t necessarily mean that is the appropriate amount to feed your loved one. I recommend feeding your pet in accordance with their target weight, as established with your veterinarian, not their current weight. From there, pledge to track the amount of food and calories you give your pets each day. Calories are fairly easy to keep an eye on, as pet foods are required to list calories on the package. On the Freshpet website and all Freshpet packaging, under Guaranteed Analysis, you’ll find the calorie count for their recipes.
With proper feeding and regular exercise, you can help keep your fur-kid healthy and happy for years to come!