While your dog or cat's quality and length of life depend on various factors like age, disease, and breed, one often overlooked component is weight. If your pet is overweight, it could potentially raise the risk of various diseases and injuries, making it harder for your pet to live a long and healthy life.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight can be difficult, but we have some best practices to help you out.
Is Your Pet Overweight?
It's normal for pets to have some fat, but too much could interfere with their health. You can assess your cat or dog's weight at home by looking at the following areas: ribs, waist, and side. You should be able to feel your pet's ribs when you run your hands along their side. Their waistline should have a sort of dent in it, and their stomach should slightly cave in towards the back legs. If you can't feel their ribs, see a somewhat accentuated waist, or if they have a large belly, then your pet might be overweight.
If you have trouble gauging their weight, ask during your next trip to the vet. After all, regular vet visits are always a best practice for weight management and overall health.
When determining how much to feed your dog or cat, always start with the feeding guidelines provided on the bag of your pet’s food. These guidelines are specifically calculated to the product's nutritional content. But remember that these are only guidelines, and your individual pet may need more or less than the recommended amount to maintain their ideal body condition and weight.
Use a measuring cup instead of eyeballing the food for more accurate measurements. This is important because going over the set amount even a few times a week could impact your pet's weight.
The Right Food
The nutrients found in your pet's food recipe matter just as much as the amount you feed your pet. No matter the weight or breed, your pet needs complete and balanced nutrition.
Here are some things you can look for when choosing your pet’s food:
- The number one ingredient should be a protein source such as chicken, beef, lamb, or salmon.
- Avoid artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and grains such as wheat, soy, and corn.
Just like people, cats and dogs usually love dessert. But also like people, they should only receive treats occasionally, not all the time–and preferably only when they have listened well to a command or performed a trick. As a general rule-of-thumb, treats should make up no more than 10% of your pet’s calories for the day, and if you want to provide more benefits when feeding treats, try offering them something that helps with their breath or contains high-quality protein.
Diet is only part of maintaining your pet’s healthy weight. Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise helps stabilize your pet's weight while also keeping their heart healthy and their mind sharp. For your dog, that might mean getting quality time with them outside, going on a walk or playing a game of fetch. For your cat, it might mean bringing out the lasers, wands, and cat towers–whatever gets your cat moving.
By following these tips, you can get your cat or dog well on their way to a healthy, sustainable weight for a long and happy life. And if you need help selecting a quality pet food, remember that our stores carry some great choices, including the new line of True dog foods. Call or stop by today, and our team will be glad to take care of you!