Over the last couple decades, many pets went from being just an animal companion to being part of the family. With this increased display of affection, pet owners are spending more on their pets than ever before. This has caused many pets to be given more food and treats, and to spend more time lounging with the family at home.
All of these factors add up to pet obesity rates skyrocketing, putting our beloved pets in danger of contracting the same diseases that overweight humans experience. In 2018, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese.
To help you counteract this concerning trend, here are some tips for maintaining a healthy pet weight:
- Figure out if your pet is in the healthy weight range. If your pet hasn’t been to the vet in a while, weighing them at home can be an important step to understanding if their lifestyle needs to change. Here is a Pet BMI calculator you can use to see if your pet is in a healthy weight range. You should also track your pets’ weight over time to see if it is changing. Easily track your pet’s weight throughout their life with the app DogLog.
- Ensure your pet is getting the right amount of food at mealtime. The number one reason for pet obesity is overfeeding, which is why it’s so important to make sure you give your pet the recommended amount of calories for their size. Here is a Pet Food Calculator that can help you gauge how much your pet should be eating or check the back of your pets’ food container for recommendations.
- Keep track of your pet’s mealtime and treats. If there are multiple people taking care of the same pet, odds are you accidentally double-fed them at some point or have given them too many treats. To track all of your pet’s meals and treats to avoid overfeeding, use the app DogLog.
- Get your pup moving (even when lounging on the couch is tempting). The general recommendations for pet exercise time is 30–120 minutes every day. Running, playing fetch, or doggy play time are all great ways for your pup to burn calories outdoors. If you’re stuck at home because of bad weather, try running up and down the stairs, playing tug-a-war, or playing hide and seek.
- Understand that weight loss for pets is a journey, just like it is for humans. Many pet owners find it is difficult to cut out extra treats and food servings because they don’t want their pet to suffer. Remember that your do not love you any less if you don’t give them as many treats or as big of meal servings as in the past. In the long run, being more strict with your pets’ food means they are much more likely to have long and healthy lives with you.