An exciting new alliance has been formed between the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Hill’s Pet Nutrition appropriately named the “Alliance for Healthier Pets: Obesity Awareness and Prevention Program.” And the spokesperson is none other than Gunnar Peterson, a noted personal trainer.
The website, www.petfit.com, provides information, tools, and resources for owners of overweight dogs and cats. My favorite feature is the “human parallel,” which illustrates what an extra pound of weight on a dog will look like an a 125lb. woman.
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So why, you might ask, should I care about how much my pet weighs? A fat cat is a happy cat, right? Obesity in animals, as well as in people, can lead to adverse health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, joint disease and pain, and even shorter lifespan.
I too have struggled with the weight of my cat and it is no easy feat to keep your pet thin and fit. However, I will continue to struggle, as I do not want to have to give insulin shots to my cat for the rest of his life.
Here are some tips on controlling your pet’s weight:
1) Meal feed – feeding your pet in rationed portions 2 or 3 times a day can curb overeating and puts you in control of your pet’s calorie intake
2) Read the back of the food bag – there is usually a chart that shows you how much your pet should eat in a day
3) Keep a measuring cup in the bag/container – that way, you aren’t guessing about how much your pet eats
4) Monitor treat intake – treats are often a part of interacting or training your pet, but keep track of how many your pet eats and decrease the amount of food you feed at mealtimes proportionally
5) Don’t feed your pet people food – this is often the hardest part for most people (me too!). Reserve people food for special times or only feed a few tastes if you can’t quite stop giving your pet its favorite people treats.
6) Join petfit.com and contact your veterinarian to teach you how to “body condition score” your pet and other ways to help your pet stay healthy!