Top 10 Weight Maintenance Tips for Pets
Weight management is key to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle for your pet. Calorie intake is a main factor in weight management. The amount of food you feed your dog or cat depends on several factors: breed, size, age and activity level.
Follow these top-ten tips as a general guide for managing your dog or cat’s weight:
- Encourage positive behaviors and be consistent. Feed your pet at the same time, from the same bowl and the same food every day. Make this your first step in helping to maintain your pet’s healthy eating habits.
- Use a cup that is 8 ounces = 1 cup. Most dry pet food manufacturers and veterinarians will recommend a certain number of cups or ounces to feed your cat or dog each day. Be sure the cup you use to measure your pet’s food is 8 ounces, or one cup. It is also recommended you consult with your veterinarian on the amount to feed your dog or cat each day.
- Portion control. Measure the amount of food you give your dog or cat every time you feed them. Make sure to use the same cup at every feeding. Measuring the amount of food your cat or dog eats will help you to keep track of their calorie intake.
- Exercise your dog through walking. Burning calories does not always require a high-level cardio workout. Taking your dog on regularly scheduled daily walks is beneficial for both you and your best friend.
- Exercise your cat through activity/playtime. Cats are natural predators so it’s important to provide toys that will allow them to exercise their hunting instincts. Use a wand toy that looks like a bird or a mouse and play chase. Laser pointers will prove to be hours of fun for your feline. The more real you make the activity, the longer you will be able to hold your cat’s attention.
- Look for non-food related emotional bonding opportunities. When was the last time you and your dog or cat had a good cuddle? Or playtime together? Or a thorough brushing? These are all emotionally healthy activities that can easily substitute for high-caloric pet treats.
- Re-evaluate your pet’s caloric needs as they age. Just like your own eating habits, your pet’s eating habits and nutrition requirements will change as they age. Puppies need more than senior dogs, and kittens need more than mature cats. Continue to be mindful of your pet’s activity level as they age.
- Treats should be a rare occurrence. Unless you’re using treats as rewards for behavior modification and positive reinforcement, keep them to a minimum.
- Factor calories from treats into daily calorie allowance. All calories ‘count’. As a rule treats should be no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake.
- Be consistent. When it comes to the weight control of your pet, consistency can contribute to success. If it helps to maintain a routine you can follow, write it down and pin it on the refrigerator, or keep a daily journal, or use a dry erase board to monitor feeding and treat times.
Also, check out the nine-point Body Condition Score (BCS) system to help determine whether your dog or cat is overweight or underweight.
TIPS TO TAKE AWAY
- The amount of food you feed your dog or cat depends on several factors: breed, size, age and activity level.
- Exercise for cats and dogs can be as simple as a walk around the block or encouraging playtime.
- Pets love consistency; find what works for you and your pet and work to stick to it.