It’s time for holiday leftovers, is your pet overweight?

North Forty News file photo.

By Morgan DeSpain
Wellington Veterinary Hospital

We are once againin the holiday season!  As we all know, we can see an increase in our waistline from all the goodies, parties, and feasts.  With all that food around, we can see our pets gain weight too. 

In the United States, over half of dogs and cats are overweight or obese and it is now considered the most common preventable disease in pets.  Obesity brings additional problems as it is associated with shorter life spans, inflammation, orthopedic issues, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, amongst others. 

Luckily, there are many ways that we can help our pets lose weight and improve their overall health.  For starters, a veterinarian can assess your pets’ body condition and recommend a weight loss plan with appropriate calories and nutrition.  This typically involves reducing their caloric intake, increasing their exercise, and monthly weight checks to monitor our progress.  

Sometimes the changes are small such as switching from “free feeding” in which food is available for the pet at all times to scheduled meals, usually twice daily, to control the amount of food they consume.  Prescription diets are also used to assist with weight loss. 

Changing their snacking habits is another way to reduce their daily calories.  If we want to give treats for their good behavior, we can make better choices.  Instead of the commercial treats, we can set aside kibbles of their normal food to give.  Even better, many dogs like carrots, green beans, or even ice cubes as low-calorie options.  We should also avoid giving table scraps as they are often high in calories and can contain things that make our pets sick such as fats or toxins. 

We all want to see our pets live healthier, longer lives and we can do that by keeping them at a lean body weight.  If you think your pet might be overweight, make an appointment for a weight loss plan specific to their needs. 

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