How to Help Your Pet Stay at a Healthy Weight

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With the new year upon us many people have made their resolutions. One of the most popular resolutions is weight loss. A healthy weight is just as important for our pets. Over fifty percent of our pets are overweight, and obesity can cause problems like diabetes, arthritis and poor health overall.

Where does your pet fit on the weight scale?

Cats and dogs that are ideal weight should have a defined waist and ribs should be felt easily. One extra pound on a cat or small dog is equivalent to twenty pounds for an average person.

How to determine your pet’s target weight?

It is important to ask your veterinarian about target goals for your pet. Sometimes an initial goal is followed by additional goals, just like in people the end goal can be daunting.

Here are some helpful hints to reach that target weight.

Calorie Content

Some foods are just more fattening than others. A good starting point is to find a “light” formula of the food you are currently feeding. This will help avoid stomach upset and potential problems with palatability.

Pet foods will have calorie content directly on the packaging or available on their website.  If a more drastic weight loss is needed your veterinarian may recommend a specific food.

Start with Recommended Directions

Start by feeding your pet the recommended amount of food based on weight. Be sure to pick their target weight not the current weight. Some diet foods will also be labeled for both weight loss and weight management.

Portion Control

Make sure you use a measuring cup. It is important to know exactly how much food you are giving your pet. Two meals is usually ideal to keep your pet satisfied.


Stop giving treats. It can be surprising how many calories are in store bought treats. If you feel guilty not giving your furry friend treats, count the calories per treat or use their food as a treat.

For a health alternative, apples, carrots, and cheerios can all be good low calorie alternative to treats. Use them very sparingly, their diet can be easily sabotaged this way.

Frequent Weight Checks

Veterinarian hospitals and many pet stores have scales that you can use to weigh your pet. It is important to make sure they are headed in the right direction. It can also show if there are some adjustments to their diets that need to be made.


Start slow. A dog that has been hanging around the house for the last year isn’t ready for a 5 mile run in the mountains. Build up slowly, a nice walk around the neighborhood is a good place to start. It is also fantastic bonding time for you and your pet.

Toys and Puzzles

These are great ways to get your pet active physically and mentally. Treat balls allow you to place kibble into the ball and the pet must bat it around to get the food to fall out. There are also numerous puzzles that the pet must figure out in order to get the reward.

Stay Strong

The sad eyes and persistent begging can break your heart. But it is so important for your pets overall health to lose weight. Keeping your furry friend around that much longer.

About the Author: Cody Sparks has been a veterinarian technician for over five years at All About Pets, working closely with cats and dogs. He loves hiking with his dog Kratos, watching the game with his cat Zelda, and is mildly obsessed with his 90 gallon reef tank.

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How to Help Your Pet Stay at a Healthy Weight

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