Most of us might ignore a little weight gain during the holidays, but a few extra pounds on your dog or cat can be hard to lose and cause health problems such as diabetes and arthritis.
Did you realize a 12 pound Yorkie is the same as an average female weighing 218 pounds and a 14 pound cat is equivalent to a 237 pound man? The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) Founder and President Dr. Ernie Ward remarks, “As a veterinarian I’m always looking for ways to demonstrate how serious even a few extra pounds on a pet can be. These tables and calculations put pet weights in human terms, making it easier to understand. For example, if I tell a client their female lab is 20 pounds overweight, that doesn’t sound too bad. Owners think ‘It’s a big dog.’ If I tell them it’s the same as them weighing almost 190 pounds, suddenly the light bulb goes on. ‘My dog is fat.’
So what can you do to help avoid pet weight gain? Here are some tips from our pet trainer Celeste Richardson:
Avoid feeding table scraps; if you are hosting guests for a party, ask them not to feed your dog scraps from their plate.
- Keep dogs and cats active – go for walks, take them to the park to play fetch, enroll them in a class like agility or a sport like fly ball or play with mouse toys and provide climbing areas for cats.
- If you can’t exercise your pet as often as you normally would, try cutting back on their food by 10%.
- If you so want to share holiday treats with your pup, such as turkey, opt for the leaner white pieces of meat over the dark, fatty pieces.
- Take twice daily walks- good for you and your dog!
- Measure your dog and cat food- don’t go on sight.
- Make sure your pets have enough water, with heat on during the winter, you want to make sure they aren’t eating because of increased thirst.
- If you’re traveling, be sure whoever is watching your pets knows the correct amount of food to feed your pet and how to exercise them. If you’re somewhere chilly, acclimate your pet to the new weather slowly or purchase a dog sweater if need be.According to WebMD for pets, concern about your pet’s weight is all the reason you need to consult your vet. “Your vet can not only diagnose the cause of your dog’s weight gain, but also help you form a realistic, safe weight loss plan for your pet. Crash diets are as bad for your dog as they are for you. Weight takes time to put on, so time is needed to safely take it off.”