Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to ensure they live a long and happy life. Unfortunately, even a few pounds of extra weight can increase your pet’s risk of developing health issues, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Fortunately, though, there are several things you can do to keep your pet at a healthy weight and minimize their risk of illness.
Before you do anything else, schedule an appointment with your vet to assess your pet’s weight and overall health. This will give you a baseline from which you can make any necessary adjustments. During this appointment, your vet can also create a health plan for you to follow to help your pet reach or maintain a healthy weight.
If some work needs to be done to get your pet to a healthy weight, your vet can help you set realistic goals. Weight gain or loss must be done slowly as rapid weight changes can result in serious health problems. Once weight milestones are set, you can learn how to monitor your pet’s progress. This may require a combination of monthly weigh-ins, observations of body shape and activity levels, as well as regular vet appointments. Once your pet reaches their goal weight, you can stick with the same routine to maintain it.
Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight requires commitment from everyone in the household. Unless everyone is on the same page, there’s a risk that your pet will get extra snacks throughout the day. We know that it’s easy to express your love for your pet through food, but there are plenty of other ways this can be done. As a household, you can brainstorm ways you can give your pet a little extra love, without resorting to food. For example, you can set aside a special toy that can be brought out when someone wants to spend some one on one time with their four-legged buddy.
If your pet is working towards specific weight goals, you’ll likely have to portion control their meals. This means that they’ll be given an exact amount of food each day, based on their current weight and next weight goal. If your pet bugs you for food between their meals, set aside a portion of this that you can give to them throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to swap shelf-stable dry kibble for fresh food like Freshpet, as fresh foods tend to be lower carbohydrate, higher in protein, and use no chemical preservatives. If you’re new to Freshpet, our product selector can help you find the right food for your pet.
Portion controlling meals might not be your pet’s favorite thing, so do what you can to make mealtime a bit more fun. Making use of ball or puzzle feeders that make your pet work for their food will extend their mealtime and also give them the chance to do a bit of activity. You can also try moving their bowls to different locations in their house each day, so they will need to “hunt” to find them – this will also let them sneak in a bit more exercise throughout the day.
Food isn’t the only thing that matters in helping your pet maintain a healthy weight – exercise also plays a key role. If your pet needs to lose a few pounds to hit their optimal weight, you’ll want to increase the intensity and length of your daily exercise. This could mean a longer, faster walk, an extended game of fetch in your yard, or an afternoon spent running around the dog park. Regardless of the activity, you’ll want your pet to have at least 30 minutes of exercise at the level needed for sustained aerobic activity.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight may seem like a daunting process, but by incorporating these tips into your day it will slowly become part of your regular routine.