Guest Post by Jordan Walker
Preventing Pet Obesity: Tips for Healthy, Fit pets
Jordan Walker is your go-to person when it comes to pets and their health. In Coops And Cages and other similar blogs, he regularly shares tips and trivia on everything related to his furry friends. In this article, Jordan suggests some ways you can help your pets battle the bulge.
When it comes to pet animals, obesity seems to be easily forgiven. With their effortless charm and candor, pets can grow chubby and be loved all the more for it. You would find it hard to believe your pet could be actually getting too fat for its own good. Pet owners can even take chubbiness as evidence of a loved pet. However, like in humans, pet obesity is a nutritional disease that should be prevented or reversed to keep other health problems from developing. As pet owners, you can take certain steps to keep your pets in svelte form.
Stop free feeding
Obesity results when pets are over-nourished and under-exercised. Overfeeding is the prevalent cause of pet obesity, and pet owners are largely to blame. After all, the humans do the feeding. Free feeding, where food is freely available in the bowl, is one such practice that causes pets to grow out. Pets who are allowed to eat as much as they want whenever they want are likely to become obese. Birds in cages and home aviaries are especially vulnerable since they are often free-fed and are not made to work for their food like they would in the wild. What you can do instead is to feed your pets fixed portions on a schedule, much like human meal times.
Feed a balanced diet
What may constitute as a balanced diet for a pet depends on its age and health history. Younger pets will require more carbohydrates, protein, and minerals than older ones. Indoor pets that get less exercise will have lower energy needs and thus need smaller portions than active ones. Still, even if they remain active, older pets will need a lower-calorie diet.
No to table scraps
One of the worst human habits that make pets obese and unhealthy is pet owners’ habit of giving pets table scraps. You should know that this could only mean poor health for your pet. Table scraps not only fatten up pets, many human foods are also toxic to them. Foods like chocolate, onions and garlic, coffee, avocados, certain fruits, and dairy are among such foods that are recommended for humans but forbidden for pets.
Yes to tiny treats
Treats should be just that – an occasional indulgence. Because treats are used mainly as reward during training, for good behavior, and few other exceptional cases, it naturally is not intended to replace regular pet food. Treats are designed to form only part of a pet’s diet, as a complement to a well-balanced meal. What’s more, treats are high in calories. If given out of proportion, treats can push a pet’s health out of shape.
Vets have identified that the lack of exercise is a key factor in pet obesity. Exercise helps keep a pet in shape and strengthen its immune system. This reduces chances of the pet becoming ill. Dogs need at least an hour of exercise, while indoor cats need at least 40 minutes of activity. Rabbits need to run for up to four hours in a safe and secure pen. Still, the amount and type of exercise your pet needs will depend on its age, breed, and health. A competent veterinarian will be able to recommend an exercise regimen that suits your pet.
Find out your pet’s healthy weight and size
One of the important factors that contribute to pet obesity is the pet owners’ lack of information on the ideal weight and size of their pets. Anyone can understand why since it is generally not easy to determine this. Vets will generally base a pet’s ideal weight range on its body size. However, owners can do a quick check by themselves to see whether their pet is obese or not. Using their hands, owners can try to feel for the ribs of the pet. This should be easy to do without needing to press on the pet’s flesh. By visual inspection, owners can try to look at their pet from above to see if they have a waist or are otherwise looking somewhat circular in shape. Looking from the side, the pet’s belly should taper from, not be continuous with, the ribcage. In addition, with rabbits, the rump area should not be rounded. With birds, the breast area is rounded but not covered with a fat layer and the ribs still easily felt. Still, you should go to your vet to obtain a definite diagnosis.
Visit the vet regularly
Check-ups with the vet should be part of your pet’s regular health program. Regular visits allows the vet to keep close tabs on your pet’s wellbeing and the pet to become familiar with the vet, which helps relieve the anxiety that comes with trips to the clinic. Through regular check-ups, the vet will be able to alert you to any issues or concerns with your pet’s health early on, including those that contribute to weight gain or increased appetite. Early intervention is invaluable in keeping your pet fit and healthy and maximizing its life expectancy.
Obesity in pets is highly preventable. In fact, obesity is far easier to prevent than to treat. By all means, treat and love your pets like family, but keep a close eye on their health and unique needs. With the help of your trusted vet, you can keep your pets in the pink of health and get to grips with the weighty issue of obesity.
Author: Jordan Walker
Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages, as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages.