According to a recent USA.gov poll, the most common New Year’s resolution is, not surprisingly, to lose weight. Whether or not this resolution is on your list this year, perhaps you need to assess its place on your pet’s list of goals for 2014 – especially since it’s estimated that almost 45 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight. Is this the year to help your pet reach a healthy weight for his or her breed?
Before making any plans or drastic changes to your pet’s lifestyle or diet, it’s best to first consult a veterinarian. Similarly to humans, if you go about weight loss in an unhealthy way, it can not only be harmful to your pet but can also turn out less effective in the long run. The first step is to schedule an appointment for a wellness exam, including the first weigh in. During this exam, the Butte Oroville Veterinary Hospital staff would be happy to answer any questions you may have or recommend a diet that suits the needs and activity level specific to your pet.
Once you have identified your pet’s current and ideal weight during your appointment, it’s time to start helping your dog lead a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tips to consider, in addition to your veterinarian’s advice:
1.Practice smart feeding habits.
Your dog has little or no control over his diet since most pets rely solely on their owners to provide their food. We recommend owners reject free choice – which allows food to be available at all times and lets dogs eat as they please – and adopt controlled eating habits. A dog should be fed two to four small portions daily, as recommended by your veterinarian. Additionally, instead of guessing how much food your dog should receive during these feeding times, it’s most effective to measure exactly how much, and how many calories, are being consumed.
2.Feed the correct food.
Sometimes brands that are labeled as "lite” or "diet” aren’t always the best choice for your pet. Oftentimes these choices are filled with artificial fillers that don’t offer any nutritional value and only keep your pet satisfied for a few hours before the hunger sets in again, making them eat more than usual at the next feeding time.
This is something that will benefit both you and your pet throughout the process. Part of a healthy weight-loss program is exercise. Not only will exercise help your pet meet his or her weight loss goals, an active pet is also less susceptible to heart disease and diabetes. Some exercise ideas include 20 minutes of fetch, a walk through a park, climbing the stairs or swimming in a local lake or pond.
The most effective way to meet weight-loss goals in a healthy way is to continually monitor progress. Set time on your calendar every 14 days to weigh your pet and record progress. If you don’t have a scale at home big enough for your pet, you are always welcome to swing by our office to use ours. We love supporting your goals and are always happy to answer any questions!
Even if your pet is already at a healthy weight, remember that it’s important to maintain this and the best way to do that is monitoring feeding and weight throughout the year. Is 2014 the year to tackle your pet’s weight loss goals? If so, let us know how we can help!