Weight Loss Program

Jan 12, 2013

Chunky Cat
Credit M. Norton

Being overweight is just as bad for your pet as it is for you, and for all the same reasons - it puts a strain on an animal's joints, heart and liver; it increases the risk of diabetes and other diseases; and it shortens an animal's life.  A chubby pet may be more cuddly, but a trim pet will probably be healthier and live longer.


So here we are, about two weeks into the new year – how’s that New Year’s resolution coming? For some of us, our resolution was to lose a little weight. Well, you might look around and notice you’re not the only one in your household that could stand to take off a pound or two.

It is estimated that half of all dogs in this country are overweight. It’s more difficult to determine how many cats are a little too chunky but I would guess the percentage would be about the same. So while you’re thinking about your own weight loss regimen, consider including your furry friend in the program.

There are usually two components to any plan to lose weight – diet and exercise. So take a look at what your pet is eating. Is it a high quality pet food or something from the bargain aisle. Lower quality foods may contain ingredients or fillers that are not so healthy for our animals. In fact, an animal may eat more because its body is craving nutrients that could be in shorter supply that what might be found in the high quality pet foods.

Especially for indoor animals, you can control what and how much your pet eats. So choose a food that says “complete” and “balanced” on the label, and limit how much you put in the bowl every day.

Talk to your veterinarian to make sure your pet is getting enough of the necessary nutrients. Your vet can also check your furry friend to determine if there are other factors, such as health problems, affecting your animal’s weight.

Exercise is the other part of any weight loss program. You and your pet can benefit by exercising together. Take your dog for a walk or a run – toss a ball or Frisbee. Throw a catnip toy for your feline friend, or get a toy that is tethered to a long stick so you can fling the toy from side to side. You will both be entertained as your cat scampers across the floor or leaps high into the air in pursuit.

When you spend time being active with your furry companion, it benefits both of you by making you healthier. Another benefit is sharing some important play time with your pet, which strengthens the bond between you. And the best part – you may both live longer and enjoy it more, when you’re speaking of pets.