Part of being a responsible pet owner is ensuring your pet’s health and well-being. Your dog doesn’t make decisions about what they eat, how much they get fed, when they go on walks, or how long they spend outside (for the most part). It’s up to you as their owner. And just as obesity is a problem in humans, it’s also an issue for pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), approximately 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the United States are overweight.
Being overweight and not getting enough exercise can be damaging to your pet’s health. It puts strain on their heart, lungs, and joints. It puts them at increased risk for kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. And they need you to help them get back on track to a healthier lifestyle.
What can you do to help your pet?
Recognize if they’re overweight. You may think a few extra pounds on your dog or cat looks cute and makes them cuddlier, but it’s not good for their health. If you notice they have extra weight hanging from their midsection or it’s difficult to feel their ribs through their skin, it may be a sign they (and you) have some work to do. Talk to your veterinarian about a healthy weight range for your pet and what the targets should be for daily caloric intake and exercise.
Stick to a consistent diet. The serving recommendations on the dog food bag may not be accurate for your pet based on their current health, weight, and activity level. Once again, talk to your veterinarian to find out exactly how much you should be feeding them each day – and stick to it. Be careful about doling out too many treats too, as those calories can add up. You may want to try offering healthy options such as baby carrots, broccoli, or green beans, which are low in calories. Also be wary of giving out treats just because your cat is purring at you or your dog is giving you those cute puppy eyes; reward good behavior instead of handing treats out just because.
Incorporate more exercise. Start with one or two brisk walks per day and maybe longer ones on weekends. Buy some fun toys to keep your dog running and active. Feather toys and laser pointers can be great for cats to keep them jumping and moving. During the summer, give your dog opportunities to swim, which can be easy on their joints while burning calories and building muscle (but don’t forget water safety!). Your pet may need a little encouragement to be more active, so keep trying and providing different activities and toys for motivation. Increased activity can be good for your health too!
If your dog stays home alone during the day, signing them up for doggie daycare can be a great way to provide socialization and physical activity while knowing someone is keeping an eye on their safety and well-being. Lake Wylie Pet Resort gives dogs plenty of time and space to run and play each day. Take steps to be proactive about supporting your pet’s health and making a conscious effort to get them moving and limit extra calories. Contact Lake Wylie Pet Resort today to learn more about our doggie daycare and boarding services.