Stop the Pet Obesity Epidemic and Help Your Pet

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Just like human obesity throughout the world, pet obesity is a growing epidemic that needs to be stopped in order for pets to live long and healthy lives. Obesity can lead to other for pets including osteoarthritis, cancer, insulin resistance, and ligament injury. These health problems can even decrease a 's life expectancy by as much as 2.5 year! Besides daily exercise from walks to playtime, a healthy diet is key to helping a lose extra weight and stay fit for life.

Reduce the number of calories

The first place to begin to help your pet lose weight is counting the number of calories they consume in a day and trying to reduce that number. Consult with your pet's veterinarian about what they suggest as a portion control size, or whether they suggest any specific brands for your pet to eat. For a cat, for example, you may want to begin with half of a cup of . If that does not work, reducing the amount to one third of a cup might be best. Try each portion size for at least 2-4 months and adjust accordingly. If your cat is begging for , even though you already gave them their lunch, give them a small chopped piece of fruit without seeds such as watermelon or cantaloupe. This food can help stop their craving for another scoop of pet food and it is a healthier substitute that is made up of mostly water. Just be sure to give a tiny bit and not too often because cats can't digest large amounts of fruit.

A supermarket's pet food aisle in Brooklyn, Ne...
A supermarket’s aisle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A specialized diet with the right pet food ingredients is essential for your pet's health. You can find a great deal of variety, although sometimes this can cause problems. Many brands offer food for weight loss or even specialized vegetarian-based products. Sometimes vegetarian-based food products lack essential vitamins and supplements or it can cause health problems. Additionally, cats come from a carnivorous background and meat-based products are essential to their health. If a pet's food lacks supplements, you can include them separately with vitamins bought from the store or a veterinarian.

Getting back into shape

Take longer walks with your dog and play outside or try out new games with your cat with catnip toys. When you go on a walk with your dog, try to keep them walking at a fast pace instead of allowing them to stop every couple of seconds to smell everything. Keep the leash short so that you can easily encourage them to keep walking at a faster tempo. If you enjoy running, take them for a run through a trail near your home. Consider making your pet work for their meal by rotating it between downstairs and upstairs so that they are forced to walk up and down to eat instead of keeping it at the ground level or at the same place.

Fat Cat Picture - Moe
Fat Cat Picture – Moe (Photo credit: danperry.com)

With cats, try to play with them for at least ten to fifteen minutes, twice a day with either a laser toy, ball, or even just a basic piece of string. While you are gone at work for the day, give them a catnip toy to increase their energy level during the day. Update playtime by placing a box near their toys or covering a sheet over an ottoman. They will love these new hiding places and "attacking" their toys when they run out of the box or from under the ottoman. Some owners will let their house cats play outside, but if you do not want your cat to go outside, open a window (make sure there is a protection screen installed) so that they can smell the fresh air.

What are some of your pet's favourite toys to play with or do you have any solutions that have worked for your pets to lose weight?

This is a guest post Lilly Sheperd, a freelance writer, blogger and pet lover. When not blogging she likes to play netball and walk around her city with her 3 year old pug, Onyx.

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