Help Your Pet Maintain a Healthy Weight

Got a fat cat or a portly pooch? You’re not alone. More than half of American pets are overweight or

Got a fat cat or a portly pooch? You’re not alone. More than half of American pets are overweight or obese, according to The Wall Street Journal and the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. The good news is that veterinarians consider excess weight an entirely preventable problem. But since our furry friends don’t walk and feed themselves, it’s up to pet owners to watch their pets’ waistlines.

Follow these tips to keep your cat or dog looking slim and trim:

1. Pay a Visit to the Vet

Only your veterinarian knows your pet’s unique health history. Always consult with your vet before making changes to your pet’s diet or exercise routine. Your dog or cat may have health issues that are causing it to gain (or lose) weight. Plus the vet may recommend a certain type of food that’s particularly well-suited for your pet.

2. Practice Portion Control

The serving suggestions on pet food packaging may not be accurate for your cat or dog. Ask your vet whether your pet should have wet or dry food (or a combination of both) and exactly what the serving size should be. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, even 10 extra kibbles a day can translate into significant weight gain over time.

3. Ease the Transition to a New Diet

Transitioning to a new diet isn’t always easy for a pet. Introduce new foods or portion sizes gradually to help your dog or cat adjust to the new routine.

4. Pick Up the Pace

All pets need exercise. Dogs need at least 30-60 minutes of vigorous exercise a day. That means daily long, brisk walks or extended visits to the dog run. Of course you can’t walk a cat. But you can get your kitty his cardio by dedicating at least 10 minutes a day to playing active games, and investing in toys that require him to run, jump, and chase.

5. Skip the Self-Feeder

Some owners swear that self-feeders help keep their pets slim. While some cats and dogs may be able to self-regulate, others will simply chow down as long as there’s kibble in the bowl. Set food out at specific times of the day and remove the bowl when the food is gone.

6. Top up the Water Bowl

Instead of offering a snack every time your pet whines for food, top off her water bowl with fresh, cool water. If you have a dog, try offering crunchy veggies instead of biscuits next time he bugs you for a treat.

7. Feed their Souls

When your pet begs for food, give it love and affection instead. Playing with your dog or cat not only diverts its attention from food, it gives it exercise too.

Get even more ideas for slimming down your pet at

Sources:; Wall Street Journal

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest