Is Your Pet Packing on the Pounds?

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 50 percent of dogs and cats are overweight or obese. Cats, however, hold the record for pet obesity, with about 21 percent battling the bulge (compared to about 8 percent in dogs). Obese pets are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and repertory disease, and kidney disease. So what can you do to prevent your furry friend from packing on the pounds?

 

For cats.

Spend time playing with your cat. Watching Fluffy go crazy with the laser pointer is not only amusing for you, but a calorie-burner for her. Don’t have a laser pointer? Tie a string around one of your cat’s favorite toys and walk around the house with it. (This also gets you off the couch.) Anything that peaks a cat’s curiosity is bound to get her moving. You can also help burn calories by putting the litter box in one room or floor of the house and the food and water in another—forcing Fluffy to walk the extra distance to use the potty.

 

For dogs.

If you don’t already have a walking routine established, start now. Build up endurance slowly by walking shorter distances first, then increasing the distance each week. If you’re a runner, get moving faster, but be sure to run where there’s grass. Asphalt and rocky roads can hurt Fidos’s feet. And always be sure water is available, as dogs can overheat quickly. Is there a dog park nearby? Take your pup over to the park a couple of times per week and bring a ball with you. Not only will this help him burn calories, but will also help him sleep better later. Even in the winter, getting outside and being active helps you and your pet; just be sure the two of you wear appropriate clothing (booties and sweaters if it’s below zero).

 

For both.

Don’t overfeed! Follow your veterinarian’s suggestions on portion size and how many times per day to feed your pet. And avoid table-scraps and extra “snacks” like the plague if you want them to stay healthy.