Just as it is for humans, weight management is an important part of your pet’s overall health. Obesity and excessive weight gain can pose a serious threat to your pet. The more pounds they carry increase their risk for conditions like diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, some cancers, urinary bladder stones, and more. Ultimately, excessive weight can even shorten your pet’s lifespan.
According to the Association For Pet Obesity Prevention’s latest study in 2018, approximately 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were considered overweight or obese. With pet obesity on the rise, the team at Brodie Animal Hospital has provided you with 5 myths and facts about your pet’s weight so they can live a long, healthy life:
5 Myths About Your Pet’s Weight
- My pet doesn’t need exercise
Your pet may love lounging around for most of the day, but they do still need exercise. Indoor cats (especially) included! Simple and short periods of activity can count as exercise for your pet, such as:
- Walks or runs
- Playing fetch
- Playing tug with a rope toy
- Playing chase
- Feathers, strings, or toys to entice your cat to play
- A cat tree for your cat to climb, or boxes to encourage them to move around and explore
- Free feeding is more natural/more enjoyable for my pet
Pets need portion control, and you as the human should be the one to provide it. Most pets will eat whatever is put in front of them. Even if your pet is a grazer or a nibbler, you should still portion out their meals throughout the day. They don’t need access to food at every minute of the day, and portion control will help your pet stay within a healthy weight range.
- Grain free or low carb food is healthier
Beware of food trends! “Grain free” or “low carb” are not options you need to consider when buying your pet’s food. In fact, they can be dangerous. A balanced diet is more important for your pet, and some of these trendy foods may be lacking in vitally important nutrients. Plus, there have been cases of heart disease and other illnesses linked to grain-free food. Contact us if you have any concerns about the type of food you’re feeding your pet.
- One portion of kibble is the same across the board
Just like portion control is important, the portion of the kind of food you feed your pet plays a role in their weight. Pay attention to the age, breed and weight recommendations for portion sizes and frequency of feeding on your pet’s food label. If you have any questions, contact the team at Brodie Animal Hospital for specific questions regarding your pet.
- Spaying or neutering will cause weight gain
Just because your pet is sterilized does not mean they are more susceptible to weight gain. Inactivity and eating too much is what causes weight gain in pets, just like it does for humans. While spaying or neutering a pet may cause a slight change in hormones that can affect metabolism, exercise and portion control are still effective tools in maintaining a healthy weight for your pet. Plus, spaying or neutering can help prevent other medical issues later in life for your furry loved one.
Tips to Keep Your Pet at a Healthy Weight
Now that you know the myths about your pet’s weight, here are some tips to keep them healthy:
- Cut back on the treats: Extra calories from each treat add up, so consider cutting back on the frequency and amount of treats you feed your pets
- Exercise everyday: Go for walks with your dog, play tug rope or fetch, or get a cat tree or some boxes for your cat to climb. Every little bit of movement counts!
- No table scraps: Dogs and cats should not have human food. Table scraps contain extra seasonings, grease, and ingredients that can be harmful to pets or cause them to gain excess weight. Too much table food can lead to issues such as pancreatitis, or could lead to an accidental pet poisoning.
- Portion control: Consult with your Brodie veterinarian about how much food your pet should be receiving, and confirm that with the instructions on your pet’s food label. Resist the temptation to overfeed them!
- Don’t be overwhelmed by choices: There are so many different types of food, brands, and options available for your pet food. If you’re overwhelmed, we’re here to help recommend what is best for your pet’s needs.
The team at Brodie Animal Hospital is here to help your pet through all ages and stages of life, and maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of their overall health. Give us a call at (512) 892‑3486 to schedule a wellness exam if you’re concerned your pet is overweight, or if you have any questions about what and how much to feed them.