Tips for Obese Pets: How Much Is That Fatty in the Window?

catI can no longer be in denial. My excuse of "He's not fat, he's just fluffy!" will no longer work.

It's been proven by the vet: I have a fat cat.

But ssshhh, we still tell him that he's just fluffy.

According to the Pet Obesity Prevention organization, over half of our nation's pets are obese (like owners like pets, eh?), which, just like in humans, should be a big red flag for future health concerns. The vet explained to me (after making me feel like an awful mother to my fur-baby) that if Scout the Cat didn't lose weight, he could be at risk for high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, and kidney and heart diseases. My poor baby! So we're buckling down and losing the weight!

If you're finding that your pet is, ahem, "fluffy," then try these steps that I learned from my vet to whip your pet back into shape:

  • Don't Give In: We're only two days into Scout's "losing weight routine," and I've already given in to his pleas for more food. I'm such a sucker for those pitiful meows and pawing at my leg. But this is their health we're talking about, so stay strong on this one!
  • Substitute Treats With Affection: Oftentimes, when your pet is begging for treats, he could just be wanting attention, so instead of giving them yum-yums (the name for treats in our house), shower them with affection: play with them, groom them, anything that tickles their fancy.
  • Ease Into Activity: If your fatty Cocker Spaniel hasn't run more than a block in two years, don't expect her to go with you on your two-mile morning jog. Slowly ease into it without exhausting them. Exercise is also important for cats, even if they're indoors -- play with felt mice or a laser pointer. 
  • Wet Foods Are Better: The vet told me that constantly giving your animal dry foods is like giving them a bunch of carbs. Unfortunately, canned foods are also more expensive, so she suggested that I at least provide one wet meal a day.
  • Mix the Healthy With the Junk Food: Let's face it, cats are finicky creatures, maybe even more so than your toddler, and it may take a few weeks to transition to that healthier, more expensive cat food that you bought. So try mixing in the old with the new, or mix it in with a wet food that she loves.
  • More Frequent, Smaller Meals: Take a cue from your diet routine and give your "fluffy" pet (we don't use the three-letter word here) smaller meals more often. It keeps their metabolism going and helps them burn more calories.
  • Keep Track of Weight Loss: You want a steady decline. I know it's exciting when you get on the scale and see that you've lost five pounds in two days. Exciting but not healthy -- and the same goes for your pet. 
  • Feed Multiples Separately: If you have multiple pets, feed them in separate rooms so the greedy ones don't overeat by scarfing down others' dinner. 

Have you ever had to deal with an overweight pet?


Image via Brittny Drye

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