A lot of us are trying to slim down in the New Year, but there’s a pretty good chance your pet needs to be put on a diet, too. According to a 2007 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 43 percent of dogs are overweight or obese, and approximately 50 percent of all adult cats over 7 years of age face weight issues, too. Many pet owners are unaware that their pet is unhealthy or may be too embarrassed to address the problem with their veterinarian. Dr. Bernadine Cruz, DVM, one of the resident advisors on MyPetCareTV.com, has put together some simple steps that can help you can get your pudgy pet back on track.
“Dogs are really the easiest to get to slim down,” says Cruz. “They are much more willing to go for a walk and thankfully, most don’t know how to open cans or cupboards!”
1. Keep dogs out of the kitchen when you’re cooking and away from the table when you’re eating. It’s also a good idea to separate multiple pets at meal times: It’s not uncommon for the pet on the diet to finish its controlled portion only to push the other pet away from his or her food.
2. If a dog “earns” a treat because he or she was well behaved, went out, or did a trick, give the dog a green bean, baby carrot or piece of apple. You can also give a piece of his or her regular dry food as a treat.
“Cats can be more trying. You can’t put a cat on a very strict diet or offer up food he or she doesn’t like: Inventive feeding can lead to a fatal liver condition,” says Cruz. “Slow feeding – and slow change – is always best for a cat.”
1. Cats don’t have to have food available at all times. Controlled feedings in measured amounts are best. If you must leave food out for your cat, hide it in various spots in the house in small quantities; then the cat has to search for it.
2. Cats can exercise; they just prefer not to. Find a fun activity for your cat, like chasing a laser light or doing acrobatics while playing with a string. Try to set up some regular “play dates” with your cat.