The New Year is approaching and many people make the resolution to get healthier through diet, exercise, and eating healthy. This New Year’s resolution doesn’t need to be just for us humans – now is the time for your pet to begin a new year with their best paw forward.

Pet obesity is on the rise.  It is estimated that over half of all companion animals are either over weight or obese. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body leading to daily discomfort and possibly shortening their life.

Fit and Fun in the New Year photo #2

Obesity is a serious health issue and can lead to a number of long term problems for your pet, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Liver disease
  • Joint and bone issues
  • Breathing issues

It is easier and cheaper to prevent health problems rather than treating all the significant health problems that can arise from a pet being overweight or obese.

Dietary Changes:

When starting your pet on a diet it is best to schedule an appointment to consult with your veterinarian to formulate a weight loss program balanced with good nutrition, portion control, and exercise and play.  Your Veterinarian can help set a realistic goal for your pet depending on current health issues and degree of obesity. He or she may be able to recommend a specific diet that is formulated for weight loss and/or that can help treat health issues that your pet may have developed from being obese. You may be tempted to just reduce the amount of food you are feeding but, reducing the portion of your pet’s current food could also reduce the essential vitamins and nutrients your pet needs.

 Fit and Fun in the New Year Photo #1

Physical activities for dogs to promote weight loss:

Your veterinarian can also advise you on an exercise plan that will specifically benefit your pet’s age, weight and breed. One of the most effective ways for your pet to loose weight is with exercise. Daily brisk walks thru your neighborhood are not only beneficial for your dog but also for you. As you see your dog being able to participate in your daily walks with less exertion you can increase the intensity of your walk or exercise.  You can also take your dog for a walk thru the woods, play fetch or do dog agility exercises at the local park. For dogs built for running, go for a jog around the neighborhood or a local park. Physical activity is a main component to help your dog become fit and trim. Not only does it lead to weight loss but helps to keep joints and muscles healthy.

 Physical activities for your cat to promote weight loss:

Getting your cat to exercise daily may seem like a silly idea. But, with some participation on your part it can be a fun, rewarding time for you and your pet. Cats enjoy anything that moves. There are many wonderful cat toys that promote movement including, bells that jingle, teaser wands, and motion cat toys. Cats are sedentary creatures. They will always choose lying in a sunny spot over actively finding a toy to play with. This is why it is important for you to find the time your cat is most active and engage them in physical activity at that time.

Helping your pet to become fit and active in the New Year can be achieved with a few simple life changes:

  • Daily exercise
  • Eliminating all treats
  • Have fun, safe toys available for your pet to engage in physical activity on their own
  • Monitor weight loss frequently, once a month.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your veterinarian so you can work together for the best results for your pet.

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– Meghan, GVH Veterinary Technician

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