Healthy nutrition for your dogs and cats starts from the moment you welcome them into your home. If you don’t get into a habit of feeding them table scraps or sneaking them treats from what you and your family members are eating, they will be healthier and happier for it!
Pet obesity is an epidemic as is obesity in humans and is leading to more cases of diabetes in our pets. As pet parents it’s our responsibility to assure our pets eat a well-balanced diet and that they get enough exercise to help them stay happy and healthy.
Here are some of our favorite tips to keep your dog and cat at a healthy weight.
Pay attention to serving size. Just as there are recommended serving sizes for people, so too are there recommended serving sizes for pets. Look on the bag of food you’re feeding and check out the proper serving size. Better yet, ask your veterinarian how much you should be feeding your dog.
A serving size is one way to track what you’re feeding, but if you have a dog who is a couch potato, that recommended serving size might be too small. Conversely if you have an extremely active dog, the serving size might be too little.
If your dog gobbles his food, consider feeding him out of a bowl that will slow him down and help him enjoy his food more.
The same goes for cats. Check recommended serving sizes, ask your vet for recommendations and take into account the cat’s activity level.
Feed food recommended for pets. Sure, your dog would love to share a cheeseburger and fries with you, but it’s not healthy. Naturally, he’d take a bite of the cupcake you’re offering. but again, it’s not healthy.
Even giving your dog “too many” treats during training can add to his weight. Ask your vet, and she may recommend cutting back a bit on regular meals if your dog is getting a lot of treats during training. Offer your dog fruits or vegetables as training treats; many dogs love carrots, apple slices, watermelon and even broccoli.
Get up and get moving. An active lifestyle is ideal for both pet parents and their pets. Put your dog into his or her harness and take a hike. Walk around the neighborhood. Take a hike in the woods. Rather than just walking out the door and letting your dog do his business in the yard, make “going out” a treat. You’ll both be healthier and happier!
Cats benefit from playtime as well. It just might keep them from clawing the walls or scratching the furniture!
Grab a cat nip toy and play “fetch” with your cat. Cats also love feathers on a string toys; they will leap and dive and chase the feather. Many cats love to chase a laser pointer light. Cats need to be motivated to exercise just as dogs do, but they prefer playing with toys to long walks on a beach!
Keep in mind that if you have an energetic dog, he will benefit from a fast-paced run or walk before you leave him home for the day -- a tired dog is a good dog!
What are your best health-oriented tips for your dog and cat?