Are Your Pets Gaining Weight?
You know it's true, most of us have put on a few pounds during quarantine from the lack of moving around. But it's not just us...our pets may have gained a few pounds too! Wakefield Research for Banfield Pet Hospital did a study of 1,000 pets and 33% of owners have reported that their pets have "beefed up" a little when surveyed in May. 25% reported they gained a little weight, with 8% reporting that their pets "gained a lot of weight". It's not just from lack of movement but 40% of the owners reported they are feeding their pets more snacks. This is also a result of not having access to dog parks, hiking trails, or even dog walkers for the most part. A dog might be taken on a long walk during the workweek while their owner is at work but during the pandemic, most dog walkers suspended services for the health of themselves and the owners, and these owners can't just stop working for an hour to take their dog out like usual midday.
Extra weight can lead to numerous health problems like arthritis, heart disease and diabetes if the same habits continue and they continue to gain weight. So how can you work on helping your pets drop those extra pounds?
1. Consider switching to a high protein, low carb diet
Whether this comes in the form of kibble, wet food, or raw food, this kind of diet is essential in pets (and even humans) when it comes to losing weight. Your vet can give you some recommendations or your local, independent pet store is often educated in nutrition and can point you in the right direction.
2. Count calories
Don't follow the recommended portions on the side of your pet food! These recommendations are typically for an active, un-altered pet but even then, each animal is different. So how do you know how much to feed? "Divide your pet’s weight by 2.2. Multiply this figure times 30. Add 70 and you’ve got a general idea of how many calories you should be feeding a typical inactive, indoor spayed or neutered dog or cat weighing between 6 and 60 pounds. ** [(pet’s weight in lbs/2.2) x 30] +70 ** Of course, each pet’s metabolism is different so be sure to consult your veterinarian before starting a diet" (Pet Health Network).
3. Use alternative treats
Things like veggies, fruits, and even ice cubes can make a great alternative for a typical treat! Our favorite is green beans and carrots. If your pet turns their nose up to it or you want to make them softer, try soaking them in bone broth for a few days. And always remember that treats should make up only 10% of your pet's daily calories. Other treats can be cucumbers, a slice of apple, celery or broccoli. For cats, you can give them a little bit of tuna or salmon.
4. Increase activity levels
Also like with people, when losing weight, you want to increase your activity level. For dogs, this can be just adding in an extra walk a day, or adding 10 minutes to the walks you already take. With cats, this might be a little harder but this can be accomplished by increasing playtime with their favorite toys.
Once they get back to an ideal weight, don't just revert back to old habits. Keep up the healthy habits and walking. And who knows, you might lose some weight with your pets, too!