With 41 percent of the dogs and 32 percent of the overweight or obese cats, it is clear that humans are not the only species to pay attention to their weight.
Vet Claire Jenkins, founder of VetChat, explains how we can keep our furry friends in the shape of a ship.
Feel their ribs
When it comes to cats and dogs, Jenkins says you can feel their ribs fairly easily; see a waist when looking from top to bottom; and see their belly tucked away when you look at it sideways.
“Veterinarians use a Body Composition Score system to determine their weight,” she explains.
“What they feel is much more important than just putting a number on the scales. Veterinarians also have Body Composition tests for birds and reptiles and other species – obesity is a problem for all species, but we see it especially in dogs.”
If a veterinarian identifies a weight problem with your pet, Jenkins says you can use their weight to track their progress.
“Numbers on the scale can be the easiest way to track the changes once it is determined that we need weight loss,” she says.
Monitor their treats
No matter how happy your pet may look when they swoon before their Schmackos, Jenkins says that just like people are told to treat food on “sometimes” occasions, including pets.
“Treats should not exceed 10 percent of their diet during the day,” she emphasizes.
“If you train your puppy or reward your pet for doing something right, you only have to give it a little treat – it can be half of your little fingernail. It’s not about the amount given, it’s about positive experience and good tasting. “
Jenkins even says that many dogs can learn to enjoy healthy food as a treat.
“My dog likes slices of raw broccoli,” she says.
“You can use raw carrots, green beans, pieces of banana, berries or apple slices.”
Take ownership of their health
Today, most of us like to treat our pets as members of our family, but Jenkins says we need to remember that they have unique needs.
“The pets don’t make decisions about how much food they get or what kind of food they get – we make that decision for them, so the goat stops with us,” she says.
“With the trend of humanizing pets, many people treat their pets as little human beings, but they are not. They have different metabolisms and different needs and a small piece of toast for a small chihuahua is actually a big meal and can be a big one make a difference to the amount of energy they eat during the day. “
Just as human diet programs often encourage the measurement and weighing of food, Jenkins says that putting a line on a cup can be a good way to ensure that your pet’s dinner does not grow slowly.
“It’s also about increasing their output through exercise and games and mental stimulation,” she says.
“Of course, that should take into account their age and any underlying medical conditions or other problems.”
Make meals fun
Instead of just pouring some kibble into a bowl, Jenkins says you can use your pet’s meal as a reward, rather than adding more food to their day.
“You can train for 10 to 20 minutes with breakfast as a treat,” she says.
“You can also use things like slow feeders or food puzzles to increase the time they need to eat their meal.”