Woman walking her dog outside

Get your pet to a healthy weight

Obesity in pets is an epidemic sweeping America and can lead to serious health conditions in your pet. Here's what you need to know about helping your pet maintain a healthy weight.

A little snack here, a little snack there and before you know it, your pet is looking a little rounder and a lot more pudgy.

Obesity in pets, however, is no laughing matter. It can lead to serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and high blood pressure.

Isolated dog pain and treats

Before putting your pet on a diet, seek the assistance of your veterinary team, says Dr. Louise Mesher, owner of At Home Veterinary Services.

"A veterinarian can help you determine your pet's ideal weight, and will also rule out any diseases that may be causing the weight gain," she said.

Here are some other tips on how to get your pet's weight and health on the right track.

Meet with your vet

Every breed has its own ideal weight based on sex, size and activity level. Meeting with your vet will give you a better idea of a number on the scale that is ideal, Mesher said.

Exercise

Exercise is good for you and your pet, so be active together.

"For most dogs, daily walks are ideal," she said. "For cats, get out those flying cat toys, laser pointers, etc., and engage your cat at least daily."

Check your pet's dietIsolated dog food

Cats are carnivores and often do not process carbohydrates as well as dogs, Mesher said.

"Talk to your veterinarian about what might be an ideal diet for your cat," she said. "This may involve switching to a high-protein, no-grain diet or to a high-quality canned food with few fillers."

Don't fall for those puppy eyes

Isolated basset hound

"For dogs, don't fall for that 'I haven't had enough to eat' look in their eyes," Mesher said. "Just like people, if they are eating more calories than they are expending, they will gain weight."

That means avoid table scraps, and watch how many treats you give Fido.

Don't guess

Don't guess at the amount of food you are feeding, Mesher advises. Depending on the size of the dog or cat, there is a recommended daily amount of food for both weight loss and maintaining the current weight. Pet food packages list the recommended daily allowance, though you should check with your vet if your pet needs to shed a few pounds to determine the correct amount of food.

"Dedicate a measuring cup or two so they are receiving the correct amount," she said.

More pet weight articles

3 Reasons your dog may be gaining weight
Get fit with your dog! Exercise with your pet
What's a healthy weight for dogs?

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