Whether we are caring for ourselves, our families or our pets, we know that leading a healthy, active lifestyle takes dedication, support and time. If weight loss and increased physical activity were easy, then we’d be one fit nation of people and pets, minus the challenges of losing weight and medical concerns associated with obesity.
Leading a healthier lifestyle is easier when changes are managed in small, achievable steps. Too many changes at once may stress you and your pet, and a dramatic change in activity and weight loss is not healthy for your dog or cat either.
Not sure where to start? Let us help you with small steps for lasting results.
- Consult with your veterinarian first. Before making any changes to your pet’s diet or activity level, schedule an examination with your veterinarian to discuss weight, body condition scores and possible underlying medical conditions.
- Create a plan for changes in diet and exercise. Your veterinarian can provide nutritional counseling to determine the right food, calorie intake, and goal weight based on your dog or cat’s age, size and breed. Ask for a custom plan that is easy to understand and to follow for maximum success.
- Encourage family support. The greatest success happens when the entire family shows support and involvement in reaching the goal. If treats are eliminated and Uncle Joe continues to give Fido biscuits, then your efforts are compromised.
- Eliminate table scraps. As humans, there’s nothing we love more than getting together and sharing food—it’s a symbol of love and happiness. However, table scraps increase your pet’s intake of unhealthy fats and calories.
- Replace unhealthy treats with healthy choices. Depending on the nutritional guidelines your veterinarian has recommended, switch to healthier treats like apple chunks or raw green beans to share with your pet.
- Start moving slowly. Walking on a leash for a few minutes each day is a good start. Increase the distance and activity level over time as your dog begins to lose weight and gain strength and stamina. Supervised swimming is also recommended because it puts less stress on joints. Ask your veterinarian about doggie daycare and fitness camps to help your dog stay active. Cats don’t have the same stamina as dogs so short durations of play with toys like a feather, fuzzy mouse or catnip-filled ball is recommended.
- Track your changes and progress. Keep a daily log of food and exercise to review with your veterinarian or fitness counselor.
- Follow up with your veterinarian. Schedule follow-up appointments with your veterinarian for a weight check, basic exam and adjustments to your plan.