With the holidays quickly approaching, this month we wanted to focus upon obesity and how you can help your pet avoid the health challenges associated with this unnecessary condition.

The Basics
The determination as to whether your pet gains or loses weight is governed by a very simple formula:

Calories of Food Eaten – Calories Expended = Change in Weight

Explained another way, if your pet consumes more calories than they burn, they will gain weight. If they burn more than they eat, your pet will lose weight.

Overweight Pets
Your pet’s weight is a vital, measurable metric that can help indicate the potential onset of several diseases including diabetes and a variety of joint, cardiac and respiratory issues, hypertension, kidney disease, or heat intolerance  —  many of which are avoidable yet potentially life threatening.

Controlling Your Pet’s Caloric Consumption
You can control your pet’s caloric intake by managing how much they eat — and what they eat.

The most common approach is to place your pet on a diet which typically restricts the amount that they eat. This generally means controlling portion size, reducing snacks, and eliminating table treats. Often a diet tends to focus upon reducing the sheer quantity of food your pet eats.

Another important aspect to weight control is to manage the calories and nutritional quality of what your pet eats. It’s quite possible that your pet’s portions and frequency of snacking are appropriate for their age. But their food may be calorie-rich — meaning each bite includes unnecessary calories. Often these calories are driven by excessive fillers or fat that add little nutritional value to your pet’s diet.

Pets Eating
As we previously shared, your pet should consume a food that has been scientifically balanced to meet the nutritional requirements of your pet — often based upon their age. Generally puppies and kittens need additional calcium and protein to help with growing bones and muscles, adolescents need added calories to support their active lifestyle, and older pets need food higher in digestive and joint focused qualities — and lower in total calories.

Controlling Your Pet’s Caloric Burn
Daily activity is not only good for your pet — it’s good for you, too. You should expect to walk, play or engage your pet for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day. Ideally, at least half of that time would include a higher level of activity — exercising your pet’s cardiovascular, respiratory and musculatory systems. You’ll know you achieved your objective if your pet is panting at the end of the play session. Remember, a tired pet is a happy pet and burning calories is essential to maintaining an acceptable weight — avoiding obesity related health issues.

Pets Exercising
Treat Tips
If your pet is food motivated or always seeking to partake while you eat — sharing a low-calorie treat can help you begin to alter your pet’s behavior. We encourage you to break each treat into multiple pieces — sharing each piece at least a minute apart.

Pet Treats
Treats should be used to train and should not constitute the bulk of their caloric intake. Recall, treats are rewards and it’s not the size of the treat — but the fact that you’re sharing with your pet which changes behavior.

Holiday Considerations
As the holidays approach, try your best to limit the amount of table food you share with your pet. If you must share, ensure the food is not processed, does not contain artificial sweeteners, and avoids high levels of fat, sugar, carbohydrates, or salt. To the extent possible, stick to sharing steamed or frozen vegetables or small portions of chicken or beef that have been cooked without any seasoning, sauce or added fat. If you can substitute a low-calorie treat, you should do so.

Contact Us
Please contact us if your pet seems overweight, or you’re concerned about the impact physical exercise may have upon their wellbeing, We’ll help you develop a diet and exercise regimen based upon your pet’s needs and your schedule. Importantly, we’ll weigh your pet and monitor their weight trends helping you to understand how to safely control your pet’s caloric intake and exercise to achieve a healthy weight for your pet.