Diet and exercise play a critical role in your pet’s health just like it does for you. You want to live a healthy life as long as you possibly can and you want the same for your pets. The key indicator is weight as obesity is a major challenge to pets’ health just as it is in us humans.
Body condition: Whether or not your pet is under weight or over weight is determined using a body condition score chart. You can click here to download a printable body conditioning chart. See the comments about diet later in this article.
So here’s some helpful suggestions on how to help your pets live longer and healthier by making sure they’re getting good nutrition and exercise.
Start with exercise.
Just like in people, exercise is important both physically and mentally. Exercise can help alleviate stress and anxiety in our pets and reduce behavioral issues. Exercise in older pets is just as important in order to maintain current weight and muscle mass. Shorter, more frequent walks throughout the day can achieve this. Keeping the pet moving and preventing stiffness from longer duration.
It’s been suggested that dogs should get 30 minutes a day of walking at a rapid pace and cats should get at least 20 minutes of active play twice a day.
Realizing that most of us probably don’t have a safe way of walking our cats play is the way to go. Here’s some ideas from Hill’s:
“Smart, practical pointers for staying active and optimizing weight through exercise.
• Toys – Homemade or pet shop toys help to encourage your cat to get moving.
• “Catch the Light” – Shine a flashlight on the floor and walls and let your cat play.
• “Boxing” – Let your cat play in a box or paper bag.
• “Hunting” – Put a few kibbles of your cat’s favorite Science Diet® cat food or Ideal Balance™ cat food in different places each day (including on top of tall furniture) and bring out the hunter in your cat!”
Now let’s discuss diet.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) pet obesity rates have been increasing for several years. In 2017, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese! We see overweight dogs and cats at our hospital on a regular basis. Obesity can lead to host of medical problems including arthritis, cruciate ligament injury, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and certain cancers.
If you think your pet may be overweight the first place to start is with your veterinarian. We’re more than happy to schedule a consult with you about your pet’s weight. We can recommend the right diet using the right portions based on your pet’s health and stage of life. It’s really important to know what you’re feeding your dog or cat including treats!
Give your pet the gift of optimal health through diet and exercise.