October is “National Pet Obesity Awareness Month,” which is a great reminder to stop and think about what we can do to help our pets maintain a healthy weight. Whether they are overweight, underweight, or at the optimal weight, there’s a lot we can do to help them live long and healthy lives.
As in humans, being overweight can lead to other health problems, such as joint problems, diabetes, liver disease, breathing issues, and more. Keeping your pet at an ideal weight is important for them living a long and healthy life.
Here are some things you can do to help control your pet’s weight:
- Determine your pet’s current weight and whether or not they are overweight. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has a number of different tools to help you determine where your pet falls on the weight scale.
- Determine the correct amount of food to feed your pet. You can use the dog and cat daily caloric needs chart on the APOP website for specific guidelines.
- If your pet does need to lose weight, monitor their progress frequently to make sure they are headed in the right direction. After a few weeks, you should start seeing progress. A 1-2 percent body weight loss per week should be your goal. Any more than that is unhealthy.
- Exercise your pet through daily walks or playtime. Actively playing with your pet is a great way to help them lose weight. Just like humans, increased physical activity is a great way to lose weight. Increase the amount of activity or level of difficulty as time goes on to continue with weight loss as needed or to maintain the weight loss.
- Don’t fall back into bad habits. Maintaining an ideal weight is a lifelong process and pets that are overweight can easily become overweight again.
Take a few minutes this October to do a weight check-in with your pet. By making a few small changes, working together, and keeping track, you will not only manage your pet’s weight in the short term, but you can also ensure cuddles and companionship for many years to come.