Helping your pet remain slim, trim, and healthy

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Although it might seem easy to keep your pet at a healthy weight, the room for error is so much smaller for a pet than it is for a human. Consequently, just a few more bites of high-calorie treats can have a horrible impact on your pet’s weight. For instance, if you gain a few pounds, you can easily lose it with some exercise. However, a few pounds for a dog can lead to an obvious increase in the dog’s torso. If a cat gains even a pound or two, it will be obviously obese. An out-of-shape dog or cat not only looks unhealthy–it feels unhealthy as overweight pets walk slower, and their hearts struggle to keep the blood flowing.

1. Human foods

Although pets love to eat people food, food made for human consumption is often high in calories. Additionally, it will often be high in salt, sugar, and fat. One treat here or there, as it were, might not seem like anything that would actually cause any harm, but a 10-pound dog only needs 100 calories per day to stay in shape. Even a small piece of bacon might represent a 50-percent increase in caloric intake. Remembering that even small portions of human food have a huge impact on pets will help you keep the bacon where it belongs–on your plate and not in your pet’s bowl.

2. Walking at the park

Pets were made to remain active. They love to walk, and the park is the best place for them to get their exercise. For instance, there are often other pet owners taking their dogs or cats out for a walk. Yes–many people actually take their cat out on a leash and allow it to walk. Doing so will help keep it in shape and allow it more stimulation. For dogs, walking is critical to staying in shape. Additionally, allowing dogs to socialize can also help them burn more energy as they play with other dogs.

3. Correct meal size

Pet food containers always indicate the approximate portion size that a pet needs, and this portion size depends on the pet’s ideal breed size. If you have to make a guess regarding how much to give, it is better to be conservative rather than generous as you can always give your pet a slightly larger portion the next morning or evening.

In terms of feeding your pet, you should use a measuring cup. Do not guess, and do not fill a bowl with food until it looks about right. Measuring the portion of food will help you keep your dog or cat much healthier because your pet will be eating exactly the recommended number of calories the food was formulated to provide.

4. No guilty treats

If you miss taking your pet to the park, do not give him or her a treat to make yourself feel better. Doing so might actually help relieve some of the guilt, but you are actually over-feeding your pet. Instead, take your dog or cat outside and let the playing begin.

5. Measuring your success

Just like humans get an annual checkup, you should take your pet to the vet at least once per year. During that time, your pet will be weighed. You should take a picture of what that weight looks like, so you can visually gauge exactly what weight your pet is at during the rest of the year.

However, buying a pet scale is the best way to monitor your pet’s weight. To get your cat or dog onto the scale, simply place a towel over the scale and place the food bowl in front of it. Your pet will soon get used to standing on the scale and eating. At that time, you can glance at the reading and see how successful you are. If you are successful, congratulate yourself. If your pet is gaining weight, adjust the portion size of each meal, and reschedule a trip to the park.