As it turns out, humans aren’t the only ones who struggle with weight gain over the holidays. Our four-legged friends, especially those of the canine variety, can also pack on the pounds as a result of too many treats and special meals. However, the consequences are sometimes more immediate for their smaller bodies.
Obesity in animals can contribute to a lower life expectancy, sometimes reducing their lives by as much as two years. It can also raise their risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney and respiratory diseases, and certain types of cancer. In addition, the strain of carrying additional weight can raise the risk of injury to their bones and muscles and exacerbate issues like arthritis.
To help your furry family member maintain their weight, first speak with your veterinarian about the appropriate weight range for your pet, and discuss their current eating habits. They should be eating a balanced diet of nutritious pet food, and you may want to ask the vet if you should consider smaller, more frequent feedings (something a lot of human doctors also recommend to their two-legged patients). Once you know how much and how often your animal should be eating, it’ll be easier to stay the course.
What to do
Below are a few steps you can take to help manage your pet’s weight in the new year.
- Politely remind visitors to not feed your pets table scraps, no matter how much they beg!
- Keep trash cans securely locked.
- Place food out of reach for pets. A persistent pet will go to great lengths when they get a whiff of something yummy.
- If there’s a special occasion and your can’t resist including your pet, stick to a small serving of well-cooked, lean meat cut into bite-size pieces.
- If you really want to give your pet a treat, consider breaking one treat into several pieces and only offering them one piece.
- Offer your pet a chew toy instead of a treat.
Don’t forget that the commitment to your pet’s health should be made by all family members. If even one household member is still sneaking treats or offering your pet table scraps, it can derail everything.
The long-term consequences of obesity are not to be taken lightly, and ultimately, your decision to help your pet maintain a healthy weight will keep them safe and comfortable for years to come.