With winter and the holiday season approaching, many pets and their families become less active and more likely to indulge in delicious, holiday food that packs on the pounds. Obesity in pets is a serious health condition and, no matter that chubby tabbies and pudgy pooches are adorable, you must show dedication and determination to help your pet shed their excess weight and return to optimal health. If you’re unsure where to turn and how to best help your furry pal, talk to the Cranberry Holistic Pet Care team about their most suitable diet, nutrition, and exercise options. Following these tips is an excellent way to start helping your pet find their waistline again.

Improve your pet’s exercise plan

Ample exercise is a vital part of maintaining your pet’s healthy weight. Many pets are couch potatoes, waiting for their families to return from work, school, and errands, and then failing to receive much exercise because of the family’s hectic lifestyle. Help your pet be active while you’re not home by investing in interactive toys, such as robotic mice for cats and ball launchers for dogs.

Of course, nothing can replace one-on-one playtime. Spice up your pet’s exercise plan with the following suggestions:

  • Blaze new trails — If you are in a rut, walking the same old path every day, find new trails or investigate a different neighborhood. Your pooch will appreciate the chance to sniff out new scents, and you’ll enjoy the change in scenery. 
  • Sign up for a sporting class — Although your dog may already have been put through their paces with basic obedience classes, many groups and courses take that training up a notch. Depending on your pet’s interests and skills, you can find an intriguing activity, such as:
    • Dock-diving
    • Treibball
    • Agility
    • Scent work
    • Flyball
    • Lure coursing
    • Disc dogs
    • Herding trials

Check the AKC’s guide for new sports you and your dog can play. 

  • Engage in daily training sessions — Training sessions each day, such as teaching your dog to spin, weave through your legs, and dance, can provide your pet with not only mental stimulation but also physical activity. Cats can also engage in such sessions, but they generally have shorter attention spans, so watch your pet, and end on a good note before they lose interest. 

Daily activity is essential for your pet’s physical and mental well-being. Routine exercise not only helps your four-legged friend maintain a healthy weight, but also staves off boredom, stress, anxiety, and behavior problems. 

Improve your pet’s diet

While daily exercise is important in keeping your pet trim and healthy, proper nutrition is more critical. Many pet owners mistakenly follow the food bag’s guidelines, which is often too much food for your pet. Instead, follow these three tips to improve your furry pal’s diet, and help them reach and maintain an ideal weight:

  • Calculate calories — Calculating the correct number of daily calories is essential for pets, as well as people, to maintain a healthy weight. The food bag’s guidelines typically calculate the daily amounts based on an active pet’s energy requirements, not the standard American pet who mostly lounges around. To determine the calories your pet needs each day, use the Pet Nutrition Alliance’s calorie calculator for dogs or cats or, for a more personalized number, use Ohio State University’s calculator.
  • Measure food correctly — Once you’ve calculated your pet’s daily calorie requirements based on age, body condition score, and activity level, you can measure the correct food amount. Use an actual, eight-ounce measuring cup—not a coffee mug, feed scoop, or other inappropriately sized cup—to portion out your pet’s meals. For example, a 22-pound adult neutered dog who receives little exercise needs only about 560 calories per day, so they would need only 1.5 cups of food per day if fed the Purina Pro Plan diet that contains 379 kcal/cup. 
  • Switch to food puzzles — Pets’ food dishes are routinely never empty, which greatly contributes to the cat and dog obesity problem. Instead, switch to a food puzzle. Your pet will need to make a mental and physical effort to obtain their meals, which will help prevent overfeeding, boredom, inactivity, and eating too fast. 

Like people, pets need a combination of a healthy diet and an appropriate exercise plan to maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity. Pairing these two critical components can help your four-legged companion achieve their ideal body weight, and the best shape of their life. 

Despite your best efforts, is your pet still packing on the pounds? If so, your furry companion may have an underlying metabolic disorder, or require nutritional testing and counseling. Contact your Cranberry Holistic Pet Care team for an appointment to help your pet safely reach their ideal weight.