Helping your pets lose weight by Jacqueline Valencia

Winter is tough on all of our fitness goals. Pets don’t have fitness goals, but sometimes winter is the time they add some pounds they didn’t have in the summer. They get fluffier and more cuddly and while great for snuggle sessions, some weight gain can add to the possibility of health concerns for your pets. As with anything I advise on this blog, do check with your vet if your dog or cat’s weight gain is of concern. If it is, there are solutions to help them stay away from the danger zone.

With dogs, it’s a combination of more exercise and calorie counting. With calorie counting it can get a bit complex depending on the size of your dog. It’s best first to ask a vet the calorie requirements of your breed, so there is no guessing needed. Ask also for a recommendation of lower calorie food for your canine. If your dog doesn’t like the new diet food, you can slowly incorporate it into its regular food. Try also offering healthy, dog-safe vegetables as treats. Count the amount of treats you give your dog in general. Treats should be 10% of your dog’s daily diet.

Exercise is important for weight loss and increasing walks is a good way to do that. An hour of exercise a day would be great and can be incorporated throughout the day. Divide it up into small walks and one longer one. Depending on the breed, you can play fetch and frisbee into the routine. Mental exercise such as with food puzzle toys (such as Olive Planet Toy: )  or snuffle mats are great for this. Toys such as these slow down their feeding time, so they don’t gobble up all their food all at once.

Cats can be pretty finicky so it may be a harder task to get them to lose weight, but it isn’t impossible. Diet change is a big one. Puzzle toys and snuffle mats, like ones mentioned above can help a lot. Cats love to play and with a little bit of treats or their food fed through these toys, it will get them playing like kittens to get the food out. You should also spread their meals out and not free range feed your pets. This way they have set times for their foods with set amounts that you can control. You can also hide their food and their litter box. Make them work for their daily routine by placing them all in different locations every day.

Playing with your cats is great for their exercise and for your bonding with them. Feather toys, balls, and trinkets (some of which you can find here: ) are great for this. Throw balls filled with catnip or treats. Feather toys entice cats to jump and run around after you. If your cat is adventurous, look into a cat harness and leash (and a flea/tick collar), and take your cat for a walk. You can’t really walk a cat like a dog, but cats will explore and get some fresh air into their systems, which is always beneficial for everybody.

Before changing your cat's diet, consult with your vet for food suggestions and how many calories a day your feline friend requires. Be patient with your cat when making these changes to its nutrition. The slower the better as most cats are very picky about big changes not only to their diet, but to their environment.

So all is not lost if your pet is fluffier this winter. They have you there to look out for them!

1. Photo by Christine Knappe on Unsplash
2. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
3. Photo by Kabo on Unsplash
Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash