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Have an Overweight Pet? These Tips Are Proven to Work!

Half the pets in the U.S. are overweight, but they don't have to be! Here's how to help your dog or cat slim down for better health and a longer life.

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Fat cats and dogs are cute, but not healthy

Of course you love your pet, but if that affection translates into an extra treat here and an extra treat there, you may be putting your pet’s health at risk. Obesity in pets is just as dangerous as it is for humans, and can result in health issues including diabetes, joint problems, and intervertebral disc disease just to name a few. If you are wondering “is my dog overweight?” there’s an easy way to tell even without knowing how much it weighs. Just stand over them and look down as they are standing, not sitting. Is your pet roundish? Pudgy in the sides? If yes, then you can assume they are overweight. A dog or cat at a healthy weight, should be smooth down the sides and if you apply very light pressure to their sides, you should be able to feel their ribs easily, but not see them, which can be a sign they’re underweight. If you think your dog or cat could stand to lose a few pounds, here are a few strategies to implement to help you out:

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No more table scraps

We know, this is a tough one! People love giving special treats off the dinner table to their special fur babies, especially when they’re looking up at you with big, brown, pleading eyes, but it’s time to stop this habit. Those calories add up quick and lots of people foods are just plain dangerous for dogs and cats, the safest, healthiest bet is to skip them entirely. Besides, there are better ways to use up those leftovers.

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Talk to your vet

Your veterinarian can recommend lower calorie foods to help your pooch slim down. They can also calculate the exact number of calories per day your pet needs to achieve a certain weight.

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Get out the leash and take your dog for a stroll through the neighborhood at potty time instead of just opening the back door and letting them run in the fenced yard. Trips to the dog park are also a great option! If it’s your indoor kitty you’re trying to help slim down, there are a ton of great toys to help get your couch-kitty moving. If you’re wondering how to get your cat to lose weight, the answer is play. Lots of play! Here’s how to train your cat.

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Trade treats for veggies

Instead of high calorie dog or cat treats, try switching it up with some fresh veggies. Most dogs love crunchy carrots and celery, and even finicky kitties may be convinced to try carrots. Plus, the water content in veggies will help keep them hydrated on hot days.

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Measure those meals

After discussing your pet’s weight loss with your veterinarian, you will likely have an idea of how much your pet should eat per day. Mark it on a measuring cup and split it into to two meals, breakfast and dinner. Then stick to it! It’s easy to assume your fur baby is starving when they have an empty bowl, but a little but of tough love will make for a healthier companion.

Kristi Pahr
Kristi is a freelance writer out of South Carolina, USA. She was a graduate veterinary technician with 10+ years in veterinary medicine before deciding to stay home and raise her children. Since becoming a freelancer, she's been published at several national outlets, including but not limited to Paste Magazine, Bustle, and Romper. She specializes in health and wellness, parenting, mental health, and animal care.