Make Your Pet the Biggest Loser

Happy New Year!! It’s time to get serious about those resolutions. What’s yours? Maybe lose a few pounds, eat healthier, drink more water? This time of year is all about getting healthy and being your best self. This year let’s focus some of that energy on our pets as well.

Did you know that about 56% of dogs and 60% of cats are over-weight to obese? Obesity can lead to a variety of medical problems. Extra weight puts extra stress on the joints leading to arthritis. Obese cats are more prone to developing diabetes which requires insulin injections twice a day to treat. In general, obesity will shorten a pet’s lifespan.

Fit or Fat

Star has excellent body condition. When viewed from the side she has a tucked in waist.

Step one is determining if your pet is a good weight. I’ll be honest, ideal weight is not always the easiest number to determine. Let’s face it, I think we all hate the scale.

It’s a much better determination to evaluate how your pet looks, or what we call body condition. Ideally, your pet should have an hourglass figure when viewed from above and the waist should tuck up when viewed from the side. You should be able to easily feel but not see your furry friend’s ribs.

If your furry family member doesn’t fit these criteria, it’s time to think about a New Year’s resolution for weight loss for Fido or Fluffy.

The Dreaded Diet

I know, it’s a word we all hate but when it comes to weight loss what goes in our mouth really is the most important factor. The same can be said for our pets.

Does your pet get fed a measured amount or is the bowl just kept full all day? I know if I left food out for my girls all the time, they would all be blimps. Especially with multiple pets it’s best to measure their food and separate for feeding.

The best guide for feeding amount is actually already on the back of your food bag! However, keep in mind that the amount listed may be slightly more than your furry friend needs. It all goes back to monitoring that body condition.

My two Labs are about 75 pounds each at a healthy weight. Ember needs 4 cups a day to maintain that weight while Eily unfortunately only gets 2.5 cups daily. It appears Ember won the metabolism lottery!

Treating Them Well

Do you give your furry family member treats?  How many? How often? What about people food?

Did you know that a single potato chip for your dog is equivalent to a person eating two double cheeseburgers?!! The treats really add up to pack on the calories.

Instead, try giving very small treats like Cheerios or simply petting and praising rather than giving treats. Fresh veggies such as carrots, celery or cucumbers can be great treats without adding calories.

Work it Out

The more you move, the more calories you burn! Every little bit of exercise helps. Taking your dog for a walk or a game of fetch can be fun ways for everyone to get a little exercise. Break out the laser pointer for a fun game of chase with your cat or dog. Movement will not only help keep the weight off but will also maintain healthy muscles which is important as pets age.

My Biggest Loser

Meet Honey. Honey is a 4-year old Labrador Retriever. Prior to her adoption in September she was an Amish breeding dog. When Honey first came to live with me, she weighed 88.8 pounds. She was obviously obese and didn’t want to get up and move much.

Honey at 88.8 pounds.

I started her diet plan by checking the feeding recommendations on the back of her food bag. I fed based on a weight less than what she already weighed.

I’ll be honest, I don’t give my dogs a lot of treats. They do get lots of hugs and pets though. My girls typically get a small milk bone once a day in the afternoon. When they have to go in their kennels they get a small Kong toy filled with yogurt and Cheerios.

I instituted a strict exercise program. Just kidding. I play fetch with my girls every day weather permitting. It was great to see Honey run with the rest of the girls! She loves to play fetch. We’re still working on the part where she gives me back the ball though.

I spayed Honey about a month after her adoption and at that point she had lost 12.6 pounds. To date, Honey has lost a total of 21 pounds! She now has a perfect body condition with an hourglass figure and tucked in waist. I have increased her feeding amount slightly to maintain her current weight.

Honey at 67 pounds. Note the tucked in waist!

This time of year is perfect time to start a weight loss program for your pet. Best of all, if it’s your resolution to be more active and get healthy it’s something you can do with your furry friend.

At Capitol Illini in Springfield and Chatham we are always happy to help with your pet’s weight loss needs. Stop in today so we can calculate a weight loss plan to help your furry family member be the biggest loser this year!