Do you like to spoil your pet with little treats? Make sure they don’t overeat, though. Before you know it, they’ve gotten a bit chubby, and obesity is as unhealthy for pets as it is for their humans. So are you finding it hard to resist those big begging eyes? Do you cave in and tend to give them snacks a little too often? Read on, and we’ll tell you how to help your pet to shed those few extra pounds and regain their waistline. (And just maybe, these tips might prove useful for pet owners and furry friends alike! 😉)
1. Measure your pet’s food intake
Cats and dogs are hunters by nature. To be a hunter means that you don’t graze all day, like cows, horses and bunnies, but they eat only when they succeed in catching prey. (Well, their counterparts in the wild, anyway, but it’s coded into the DNA of our pets.) Pursuing and catching prey is hard work and burns a lot of energy. Despite that, many people have a full bowl of food out for their dog or cat, all day every day. As a result, those pets get to eat whenever they want, without the calory-burning effort, and they’ll rapidly gain weight.
The first step to a healthy weight is to measure what your pet is eating. Consult with your vet to see what your pets ideal weight is. Combine this info with the tables on the food packages, and it’ll be easy to work out how many grams of food your pet is supposed to eat every day. Split that amount over at least two meals per day.
2. Tactical snacking
There are many delicious treats available for both cats and dogs, which sometimes makes it hard to resist temptation. Maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t mean snacks are now completely and forever off-limits. It does mean you should utilize snacking more tactically. Many treats are little calory bombs. Make sure to choose healthier options that have ingredients and additions that contribute positively to the health of your pet. Our treats contain as many natural ingredients as possible, and crucially, we do not add sugar, salt and artificial additives. Our salmon and chicken strips are low on fat but contain lots of salmon and chicken: A healthy alternative to those calory bombs.
Another way to drastically reduce snacking is to no longer use them to reward each and every good behaviour. If you reward your dog’s good behaviour with a treat every single time, they will associate his behaviour with food alone and not a happy human. Is your dog on their best behaviour during walkies? Try rewarding them with cuddles or playtime at the end of your round.
By being more strict and conscious about treats, you may even find yourself doing the same with your own snacking behaviour. And that’s what we call a win-win situation.
3. Know what your pet is eating
It’s important to know what is in the food we give our pets. Often, foods are chockfull of ingredients and additives that up the calory count but do nothing positive for your pet's health. If you choose to give your pet kibble, be sure to provide them with quality food that suits their needs.
4. Get moving… yes, also when the weather is crap
All the energy this healthy food has given them must be expended, or it’ll end up on their waistline. That’s why it’s essential to make a habit of taking time every day to get moving.
For dogs, of course, that means a vigorous walk. A wee walk around the block does not suffice. Your dog needs at least one long walk a day, especially if they spend the rest of the day indoors. Haven’t got time during the day to go for a long walk? Then make sure your morning or evening walk is a bit longer and more active. Set a more vigorous pace and add a few extra blocks to your round. If you notice your dog is building stamina, you can up the intensity. This exercise is not only beneficial for your pet's body and mind but yours as well.
5. Fun and games
Outdoor cats usually have no trouble getting their daily dose of exercise. Climbing and jumping, fleeing from dogs and chasing birds; provided they are getting the right nutrition, outdoor kitties are unlikely to get fat. It’s a different story for cats that spend their days indoors. Luckily, it’s easy to replicate those outdoor activities in the comfort of your own home!
Climbing is essential to cats. They love to observe their territory, perched safely in high places, so they can check whether other cats are roaming their area. Or maybe there is a tasty bird of mouse not paying enough attention? Climbing is also great for their nails and trees are natural scratch poles. Haven’t got the space in your living room for a tree? There are lots of scratch poles and towers available that make a great alternative. Go nuts if you want – from simple tall scratch pole to entire cat castle, you’ll find them all. The great thing about many scratch poles is that they also have little hidey-holes for your kitty to comfortably nestle in.
Even hunting can be replicated inside the home in huis. What about a feather attached to a piece of rope? You’ve got yourself a rudimentary bird that can fly across the living room. A big hit amongst our feline friends is a laser pointer. Shine the light slightly higher on the wall: that’ll force your cat to jump up to ‘catch’ the light. Cats also love the simple joys of a scrap of paper, or a ball of wool. As long as it can move in unexpected ways, it’ll entertain your cat.
As you can see, just as for us humans, it's actually not that hard for pets to maintain a healthy weight. For all of us, the mantra should be 'routine, routine, routine'. Make sure you feed your pet at set times and to exercise daily, and you will see that together you will have a healthy 2020!