Fat Dogs and Fat Cats, How to Help your Overweight Pet | Naturpet Inc

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How to Help Your Overweight Dog or Cat Live a Better Life

Obesity is on the rise in much of the developed world. Currently one out of three dogs in the U.S. are overweight. While overweight and obese cats outnumber cats of normal weight. The risk of developing a degenerative disease increases dramatically in overweight pets. Not only does being overweight decrease quality of life, it also shortens life span.

Cause of overweight pets

It is well-known that any animal will gain weight if it consumes more calories than it burns for energy. In the wild our pets would have had to exert a lot of energy to catch their dinner. Burning lots of calories to consume more calories. These days our pets lay around the house and wait for us to fill up their bowls. For the most part, our pets aren’t as active as their ancestors would have had to be.

Another thing differentiating modern pets from their ancestors is the quality of their food. Our pets’ ancestors ate whole prey, sometimes scavenging for grasses and seeds. This diet would have been high in protein and quality fats, and almost void of carbs. The diet of the average household pet is much higher in carbs, contains average amounts of proteins, and few fats of poor-quality.

Fats for overweight dogs and cats

Fat is the preferred energy source for dogs and cats, but when there are fewer fats in the diet the body uses carbohydrates instead. The body will have to store twice as many carbs to make up the same amount of energy as stored fats. This causes pets to gain weight faster. The rise in obesity in pets has much to do with the rise in carb-rich ingredients in pet foods, not the fat content.

Health risks of overweight pets

Fat cat

There are major health risks associated with being overweight. Your pet has a higher chance of developing:

  • Arthritis and joint damage
  • Diabetes and heart disease
  • Liver and kidney disease and failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood changes, lethargy
  • Many forms of cancer

Tips for dealing with an overweight dog or cat

  • Portion control: Smaller sized meals more often. For cats the best way to do this is to avoid “free choice feeding”. Experts recommend feeding your cat small meals rather than letting them graze all day.
  • Keep a strict routine: Feeding and exercising at the same time every day helps to regulate blood sugar levels. This is a great way to help your pet lose weight. Feeding on a strict schedule also primes the body to have digestive acids ready for meal time. This type of feeding also ensures that your pet is absorbing more nutrients from food.
  • Increase physical activity: Overweight dogs will benefit from two 20-30 minute walks twice a day. This is enough to support weight loss. There are many toys to get fat cats active. A cat tree or tower is a good way to get cats moving. Ping pong balls and laser toys help your cat imitate hunting, but most cats will only play this way for short periods before getting bored.
  • Limit use of conventional treats: Find a different way to reward your pet other than with food. For most pets, the interaction with their human is more rewarding. Give your pet some snuggles or pets to show them you care. Meats are the best option for treating your furry friend, like small portions of salmon, chicken, or turkey.

It can be difficult to manage your pet’s weight. As with humans, having a weight loss buddy can make things easier. If you are trying to get into shape too try to think of some exercises that you can do with your pet. Daily walks or adventures with your dog, or a game of chase with your cat is fun for both of you. When exercising with your pet is fun it will be something that you both want to do more regularly. Adding Dr. Maggie Skin & Coat to your pet’s meal provides them with healthy fats that keep them full and plenty of energy to keep up with their exercise!

Lindsey Eadie, CNP
Lindsey Eadie, CNP
Lindsey is a Holistic Nutritionist who graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver, BC on the Dean’s Honors list where she learned the true healing abilities of whole foods, herbs, and supplemental nutrients. After graduation she worked as a Natural Health Advisor for an integrative pharmacy where she used her nutrition and orthomolecular knowledge to promote the wellbeing of all her clients, including the furry four-legged ones. Her passion for natural health has directly benefited her allergy-riddled female Pyrenes/Bernese Mountain dog named Astro and her anxious Golden Retriever/Bernese Mountain Dog Bella. She is currently applying all her knowledge to her position at NaturPet Inc. as an Educator and Account Manager, spreading awareness of natural health alternatives for optimal pet health.

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