Pet obesity is a growing health concern. Overweight cats have an increased risk of diabetes, liver problems and joint problems. Similarly, obese dogs are prone to diabetes, develop more orthopedic problems and arthritis. They may also develop respiratory distress and are more susceptible to heat stroke.
Keep these things in mind to prevent your pet’s waistline from expanding and to keep your pet safe:
- Maintain a routine. Keep to a schedule of several small meals a day and make sure you are feeding your pet from a pet bowl or dish. It may be helpful to have a check off list to ensure a pet is not fed twice.
- Provide opportunities for physical activity. While the days are getting cooler and the weather not always cooperating, taking a longer walk or more frequent walks with your dog can benefit both of you. For cat owners, encourage activity by getting him/her to run and play. Toys that encourage your cat to chase are helpful or include stairs in your pet’s playtime by getting the cat to run up and down the stairs. Whatever you choose, HAVE FUN!
- Watch the snacks and treats. Take note of the number of calories and the nutritional content in your pet’s treats. Think about whether that single dog cookie, decorated like a reindeer or the cat treat decorated like a mouse, is worth the extra calories. Too many treats, especially high-calorie treats, can result in your pet gaining extra weight during the holidays.
- Follow this simple rule: “Humans get human food and pets get pet food.” This can often be difficult when you have friends or family visiting. When they see a cute little face begging for food, it’s hard to resist. Remind your guests not to feed your pet and if they want to, provide them with some appropriate pet treats to share. The one exception is vegetables: celery, zucchini, carrots, and green beans can make great low calorie snacks as an alternative to fatty meats or dangerous bones.
- Watch the crumbs. Pay attention to any foods that may “accidently” fall into your pets feeding area. Keep your pets away from the table and be conscious of where you’re leaving unattended plates of food, and remember to secure the trash.
- Some foods can be dangerous.
- Turkey and other bones can cause intestinal blockages and other problems for your pet’s digestive system.
- Fatty, spicy and other rich foods can cause indigestion, sickness and diarrhea – and more serious conditions from gastroenteritis to pancreatitis
- Onions or other alliums (i.e., garlic, leeks, scallions), in small quantities may be alright, but larger quantities can lead to toxic anemia. Be careful of turkey stuffing, which often contains onions.
- Remember the risks of feeding your pets chocolate or anything sweetened with sugar substitute, xylitol.
- If you pet does ingest anything toxic, call your veterinarian or poison control immediately.
We all want healthy companion pets. By following these simple tips, you’ll be assured that you are doing everything possible to help your pet during a time that is just as tempting for them as it is for you.