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by Annette M. Dixon, DVM
If you knew a way to increase your pet’s life span, would you do it? One of the easiest ways is good balanced nutrition. An obese pet can lose three years to its life span. Good nutrition can equal good health.
Over 55% of pets in the US are obese. That is equivalent to 88.4 million pets. Obesity leads to other diseases including heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, breathing problems and high blood pressure. However obesity is a disease that an owner can take control of.
In order for a pet to lose weight, calories need to be reduced and exercise increased. It is not enough to turn your dog outside to run a few laps around the yard. Your pet’s heart rate needs to be increased for a period of time. This can be done by leash walking your dog or getting your cat to chase a laser pointer for at least 30 minutes a day. 60 minutes a day is even better.
Calorie reduction is very important. A low fat, high fiber diet such as Prescription Diet R/D is essential for weight loss. This pet food is available through your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can calculate the necessary amount to be fed to promote weight loss. Any additional treats, chews and table scraps need to be factored in.
Understandably owners have a hard time telling their pets “no” to food. I recommend that if you are going to give a treat, divide the treat into quarters. Then only offer a quartered treat at a time. By doing this, you are reducing the amount of calories your pet is taking in. Pets do not care how big the treat is. They just like getting a treat from your hand. Using pet food kibble can also be used as a treat. If you like to give your pet a treat at meal time, put a small bowl of pet food kibble on the table. Offer one kibble to your pet at a time.
Treats should be low fat and low calorie. If you cannot find nutritional information on the package, more than likely your treat is not low calorie. Treat manufacturers do not advertise how fattening their treats are.
Fruits and vegetables are good treats. Pets love raw carrots and canned green beans. Experiment to find out what your pet likes. However do not feed your pet raisins, grapes or onions. These can be toxic.
If your dog does not lose weight after you have tried decreasing calories and increasing exercise, your dog may have a medical condition called hypothyroidism. Your veterinarian can perform a blood test to determine this condition. Hypothyroidism can be treated with a prescribed medication.
Are you not quite sure if your pet is overweight? Look at your pet’s waist line. Both a dog and cat should have an hourglass shape to their waist line. If you are still not sure, schedule an examination with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian is a valuable resource for determining your pet’s overall condition and a proper diet for good health.
If you have any questions about your pet’s weight or any other medical condition, please call the Clarksville Veterinary Clinic at 573-242-3444. Science Diet and Prescription Diet pet foods are available at the Clarksville Veterinary Clinic.
For boarding, grooming and Eukanuba pet food, please call Clarksville Grooming & Boarding at 573-560-3233.