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Today is the sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. It's a great day to take a look at your pet and evaluate his weight.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that more than half of U.S. dogs and cats are overweight or obese, and thus have a higher risk of conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and shortened life expectancy. If you find that your dog's getting a bit pudgy, here are some steps you can take:
10 TIPS for HELPING YOUR PET LOSE WEIGHT
- Ask your veterinarian the appropriate amount of food for your dog or cat. Don’t go by the recommendation on the pet food bag, which may not be calculated for your pet.
- Measure your pet’s food. I used to feed Kelly “one scoop.” It turns out that scoop was twice as much as she really needed.
- Invest in quality food. Check the ingredient list on the side of the package—be sure there’s a healthy lean protein among the first five ingredients. For dogs, a great reference is The Dog Food Advisor.
- Make your dog your diet partner! (Many of you know, in my book, Dieting with my Dog, I share how Kelly and I motivated each other and lost weight together.)
- Resist offering your dog table scraps. For treats, try baby carrots, green beans, or slices of banana.
- A few spoons of canned pumpkin (not the pie mix, but pure pumpkin) mixed into your dog’s food is healthy, and helps them feel full.
- Snacks are great, but only offer small bites. I used to think that giving Kelly lots of treats was a way of showing love. I learned, instead, that the best way to show my dog love is to keep her (and myself!) healthy.
- Don’t forget exercise. Take your dog out on at least one good, brisk walk a day. Seeing new sights and sniffing new smells is good for their minds, too.
- Get active together. Kelly and I replaced sedentary habits with more physical ones. While I lean toward activities such as relaxing with a good book, now Kelly and I often go outside and play in the fallen leaves, take a hike in the woods or play with a Frisbee at the park.
- Join in the Association for PetObesity Prevention’s survey. They’ll send you information, handouts, and a measuring tape to complete the study. You’ll contribute to accurately assessing the number of obese and overweight pets in the United States