Can’t say no to those puppy-dog eyes? Trained by your feline to feed on demand? Unfortunately when it comes to indulging our four-legged friends with a scoop of ice cream or a bite of bagel, we may be doing mote harm than good.
More than 25 percent of cats and dogs in this country are overweight–and with the excess pounds come a host of health problems that can diminish your pet’s quality of life. and may even shorten its life span. They include diabetes; respiratory illness; heart disease; and an increase in infections, particularly of the skin and bladder. What’s more, early detection of tumors becomes almost impossible in animals whose internal organs are encased in too much fat. Arthritis, which afflicts millions of older pets, can become a crippling condition in chubby animals. And fat cats are at risk for liver failure.
How did our furry friends become such fatties? The culprits are too many table scraps and too little exercise. In addition, some owners are unintentionally overfeeding their animals because many pet food-package guidelines recommend a higher daily food intake than is necessary. It’s not unusual to read packages that recommend five to eight cups of dry food a day for a dog whose ideal weight may be maintained on a daily intake of three cups. For a more accurate and healthy idea of how much to feed your pet, ask your veterinarian or a friend whose similar-breed pet is in trim form.
If your dog or cat has a weight problem, the first thing you should always do is take your pet to a vet for a complete evaluation. He or she will ask about your animal’s diet and daily exercise. The vet should also perform a thorough examination to detect any health problems and may take a blood test for underlying hormonal imbalances.
You may be told to simply decrease the amount you feed your cat or dog by a third, or you may be advised to purchase special diet food with fewer calories.
Once you start a weight-loss program, follow these tips:
* Keep the weight loss gradual. As with humans, a slow, steady approach is safer than a rapid drop, which can cause, among other problems, liver failure in obese cats.
* Stick to the same routine. It your pet is used to eating three meals a day, continue to follow that pattern–just make the meals a little smaller.
* Exercise your dog regularly, starting out with short walks if your pooch is a couch potato, then graduating to games that require running, such as chasing balls or Frisbees. Likewise, assume that just because your feline is no longer a kitten, she won’t want to play. There are plenty of string toys that will get your cat moving.
Psychologically, putting your pet on a diet may be harder on you than on your canine or feline. Give your furry friend extra love and attention, and, chances are, he won’t even notice the smaller portions.
An Older Dog Or Cat Has Special Needs
An older dog or cat can be much more subject to obesity, mainly because arthritis and other age-oriented diseases can slow them down quite a bit. This is why diligence with diet and avoiding table scraps can be so important to a pet’s health in its golden years. Fortunately, looking to a high quality pet food with a weight control aspect actually can make a huge difference in a pet’s final years.
The difference with higher quality pet foods is often higher quality ingredients. A good idea would be to ask a veterinarian exactly what kind of pet food might be good for your dog or cat, and then precisely what amount they should be fed. This can make a huge difference, as overfeeding your pet can sometimes create sluggishness. When a pet is older, sluggishness is expected, so overfeeding often continues unabated.
Basically, like humans, older cats and dogs need more care in order to survive and lead a great life. Ensure that you keep your pet well looked after, and it will surely remain a close companion for many years to come.