Big pets are adorable, but their weight should be managed for their health.
We all love chunky dogs and cats, but you never want to go too far and have your pet develop a heart condition. Once pets gain weight, bad habits seep in, making it much harder for them to be more active and more patient with food, especially if they’re old and you’ve trained them to expect treats as a reward.
But don’t worry, not all is lost. Here’s what you can do if your pet is looking a little heavy:
Visit the vet
Before you panic and submit your dog to a strict diet, it’s important to visit your vet and see what they have to say. Instead of telling you to feed your pet less, your vet will likely suggest a meal plan you can follow and some healthy habits to incorporate into your pet’s lifestyle. Your vet should give you a realistic weight goal to achieve, alternatives for treats and foods and a follow up consultation in order to check on your pet’s progress.
Get your pet to move more
While diet is the most determinant part of any weight loss program, exercise is also important, helping your pet stay healthier and preventing plenty of negative side effects and diseases from popping up. If you have a dog be sure to go on longer walks, to take them on runs, and to spend some time at the park with other dogs, so they can play. If you own a cat you have to make your home more entertaining for them and spend a good amount of time playing together.
Just like it is for humans, dieting is easier if you just measure the amounts of food. Be sure to follow your vet’s plan and to split up the calories according to the amount of meals and treats you plan to give your pet on a daily basis. If your pet is small, weighing everything is even more important, since one small change can greatly affect their weight.
Learn to reward your pet with things other than food
All pets are obsessed with food and that’s understandable, but try to incorporate other things that excite them as part of their reward system. Throw them a ball or a toy instead of giving them a treat when they’re whining; most of these times your pet is looking for attention.
Be strict with their feeding schedule and habits
There are many tools that can help your pet have a better relationship with food. Puzzle feeders will entertain them and make them eat slower, tiring them out and preventing vomiting or feeling bloated. Instead of leaving food for your pet so they can eat it whenever, give them their meals on fixed times of the day.