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pets: overweight pets

Super 1 Foods | Posted Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 07:09AM

Overweight PetsIs your pet overweight? Healthy pets have some padding over them, but a little is plenty. Rub your hands over your pet’s ribs. The skin should move easily back and forth, and you should be able to feel the ribs. Your pet should have a definable “waist” at the bottom of the rib cage, a small tuck-in at the stomach. Take a look from the side: If your pet looks pregnant, he’s overweight. From above, a bump out from the middle into an apple shape is equally bad news. It’s not just dogs and cats in trouble: Birds can be obese, too, developing a thicker breast and even rolls of fat.

Obesity in pets causes a lot of the same problems that it does in humans. An overweight pet is prone to a host of related problems, including diabetes and joint, breathing and heart problems. Overweight cats can even develop skin problems from not being able to groom themselves properly. Overall, obese pets face lives that are often uncomfortable and shorter, just as obese people do.

The best place to start is with a trip to your veterinarian. You’ll want to make sure your pet doesn’t have any problems that might make any lifestyle changes difficult. Your vet can also suggest a food plan that might help.

Carve some time out of your schedule to walk your dog or play with your cat: three times a week, at least. Be sure to work in some aerobic exercise, anything that gets a cat or dog running. Birds can benefit from a curled-rope spring perch; they have to work to stay on the thing, decreasing boredom and increasing calorie burn.

Whatever food regimen you and your veterinarian decide on, be determined to stick to it. Get out of the habit of expressing your love for your pets by handing them pet treats. Keep the treat volume to a minimum, and switch to a reduced-calorie treat (but don’t use reduced calories as an excuse to give more). Even better, substitute mini rice cakes and carrot sticks for the occasional dog treat. Dogs like them just fine, and they’re not going to sabotage any weight-loss efforts.

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