Social media is full of jokes and memes about people’s overweight, “chonky” pets. Photos and videos show pets struggling to walk, sit or stand. Your friends might respond with laughter, but pet obesity is no joke. Obesity can lead to painful health problems for your pet, such as arthritis and diabetes — and it is entirely preventable.
We love our pets and would do anything for them to live longer and healthier lives. But right now, obesity is an epidemic that can lead to painful health problems for your pet, such as joint issues and diabetes, but good news, it is entirely preventable. Here are some ways to keep your pet at a healthy weight.
1. Reading and following feeding instructions
Bags of pet food often include directions on the label that state the amount to feed, depending on your pet’s ideal weight. As a reminder, a “cup” refers to a measuring cup, not a random mug from your cabinet!
2. Healthy treat options
Treats are a great way to reward or train your pet, but in moderation. Carrots, apple, blueberries, watermelon, pieces of hard-boiled egg and fresh — not canned — green peas are great natural alternatives that are also tasty for your best friend. Peanut butter and most types of cheese are safe for pets and can be a great distraction if you need your furry friend to swallow medications prescribed by your vet. Just keep in mind they tend to be high in fat and calories.
An important note: many human foods are unsafe and even deadly for cats and dogs, such as grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, coffee, tea, or alcohol. Additionally, avoid any food that contains an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which is often found in chewing gum, candy, and store-bought baked goods. If your pet eats any of these unsafe foods, call your vet, emergency vet clinic, or pet poison control hotline immediately.
3. Exercise your pet
Exercising your pet regularly can help shed some pounds. Take your dog for a walk. Play some indoor games with your cat. Toss a tennis ball or favorite toy down a flight of stairs and call your dog to retrieve it. Get a laser pointer and watch your cat chase the beam for hours. Our pets are our best friends, and we are responsible for their well-being. If you’re concerned about your pet’s weight, consult your vet. For more information about the dangers of pet obesity, check out the infographic below.