Pet Obesity - Part 7
The one question that I'm always happy to hear from a concerned owner of an overweight pet is, "How can I help my dog lose the weight?" In this article, we will look at three simple steps to take when trying to achieve this task, or as I would prefer to call it - responsibility. As I have repeatedly mentioned, the health and quality of life that our pet enjoys is a direct result of our efforts as their owner.
The most important thing that we can do is to practice some "tough love" with our best friend. This means measuring precisely the amount of the proper food, usually a commercial diet, that your pet is receiving every morning and evening. This is to ensure that your pet is receiving the necessary nutrients at the correct levels to protect their health during the weight loss period. It also requires that we keep treats to an absolute minimum. This can be a challenge when your pet is sitting by your side begging with those big, sad eyes. And be sure to inform your family, friends and neighbors so they aren't compromising your efforts by giving extra snacks to your pet.
Secondly, we need to increase exercise gradually as your pet gets into better shape. Start out with easy-paced five minute walk during the cool part of the day. As your pet's endurance increases, so should the length of the walks. Just as with dieting, this is common sense, but difficult to follow through with until you get back into a habit. If your pet is older, has an illness or injury, or is extremely overweight, check with your veterinarian on how to best introduce an exercise program with your pet.
And the third part of the process is open communication with your veterinarian. It is very important to keep them in the loop so that you can utilize their knowledge and experiences should you encounter a problem with your pet's weight loss program. They will be able to answer questions such asâ€¦
a) What is my pet's ideal weight and how fast can I safely reduce the extra pounds?
b) What food, how much and how often should I feed?
c) When and how do I begin an exercise program - and how fast can I increase it?
d) Should I give any treats and what type would be best?
These three steps will require commitment on our part, but as my dad used to always tell me, anything really worthwhile may take some time and energy, but the satisfaction achieved with reaching our goals will more than make up for our effort. This is especially true with our pet's weight loss. Our reward is having them enjoy more happy and healthy years with us.