Oh, you chubby thing! 5 tips to prevent obesity among dogs and cats (Part 2)
Oh, you chubby thing! 5 tips to prevent obesity among dogs and cats
A treat here, a rewarding snack there - in Part 1 of our article on "Obesity in Dogs and Cats," I explained the reasons why our four-legged friends gain weight - and how to avoid this problem from the start! In this section, I will discuss five ways you can put your furry friend on a diet.
The good news: As you largely determine what your pet eats, it is not difficult to help your four-legged friend lose weight. However, it takes time. That's why the golden rule of weight loss is patience. Essentially, the weight of your pet is influenced by two main factors: diet and exercise. Losing weight works with the following five tips.
1. Avoid snacks or feed smaller meals
Take things slowly. A radical reduction of food or even a starvation diet is not a solution, as it will only create stress and make your pet feel more hungry. When it comes to diets, the same rule generally applies to us and our pets: Our bodies need to burn more calories than we consume.
It is very important to remember that snacks in between meals, like a piece of sausage sandwich, cheese, a pig's ear or some condensed milk for your dog or cat, either need to be completely eliminated during a diet or replaced by half of a complete meal. In other words: half a pig's ear = half as much dinner. In the case of dried treats (pizzle, pig's ear, etc), the actual size of the treat should be multiplied by five. When it comes to a pig's ear, pizzle etc., the water was simply removed through drying, which condenses the calories.
2. Document the course of the diet
You should keep a record of the diet progress. Weigh your dog or cat and note the beginning weight and target weight. This process should be repeated weekly or every two weeks - ideally always at the same time of day, e.g. in the morning before breakfast. Also focus on weekly target weights and write them down. A dog should not lose more than 2% of its body weight each week when on a diet. In the case of older dogs, this should be even less. Cats should only lose about 1 to 2% of their body weight per week during a diet.
3. Choose the type of food wisely
If you want to choose between dry and wet food, then wet food is recommended. Due to the high amount of moisture, its energy density is lower. Cats and dogs have a full stomach but have consumed fewer calories than if they had eaten the same amount of dry food.
You really should avoid light wet and dry food. The calorie content is significantly lower than normal food, but this has a detrimental effect on the metabolism of your four-legged friend, which will already be slower. The food does not contain enough energy. The lower metabolism and lack of nutrient content also cause fatigue and lethargy, which interferes with weight loss.
When cooking or feeding a BARF diet, you should check the fat content and in particular reduce the carbohydrates and starch (e.g. of potatoes, grains and rice). Tender, low-fat meat like chicken, turkey, fish and lean beef are recommended. Low-carb vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, salad and courgette make a good accompaniment. Fruit is also always a good idea for a dog or cat diet. For example, see if your pet likes to eat watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or kiwis.
Cellulose and psyllium husks can also be used to support the diet. Cellulose and psyllium husks are dietary fibre which has no nutritional value and regulates intestinal activity and promote satiety. Psyllium husks also have a high content of mucilage and one can absorb five times as much water. As they swell, your pet stays full for longer. Let the seeds swell a bit before mixing them into the food.
4. Make sure that your dog / cat gets enough exercise
None of this will work without exercise! Diet is always a combination of reduced calorie intake and increased movement. The type of exercise should be adjusted depending on your furry friend's weight. For example, some dogs should not be expected to go on hikes for several hours or come along on a bike ride. You should also avoid ball games and Frisbee for the time being. Exercise in the form of several walks during the day are recommended. Fluid and brisk walks with breaks or a slow walking pace, in particular, tend to be successful. Swimming and therapy pools are also a good option in weight loss plans, as they protect the joints, build muscle and burn calories.
Exercise is very easy for cats as they can go where they please. As a rule, they are also less prone to weight gain. Indoor cats are a different matter. You can use clicker training to teach them little tricks and also give their brain a challenge. You can also use treat balls so your cat has to work for their food. Toys like cat teasers and empty boxes are helpful. In general, you can use anything that provides your cat with a range of activities and keeps them moving.
5. Keep going and stay consistent
Consistency and determination are particularly important to get rid of that extra weight for good. Throughout the diet, It’s crucial for your pet that you do not become weak and give in, to their pleading looks. Meanwhile, It’s also worth checking whether they are getting food elsewhere. Our pets can be very resourceful: bags of rubbish, compost heaps, bird food and also neighbourhood cats' food - anything edible. If you keep these factors in mind, your pet will have long-term success and regain their fitness.
Are you battling with your dog or cat's weight? Share your tips in the comments!
I wish you and your furry friend success in your weight loss journey!
Yours sincerely, Katrin