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Vet Notes : cats

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This Will Not Go Away - Our Pets are FAT!

Mirroring the obesity epidemic among the human population of the US is an obesity epidemic in our pets. This problem is not going away, despite the warnings in the press and in the vet clinic of the serious medical conditions that go hand in hand with obesity in pets.

Overweight pets are more likely to develop diabetes, suffer from heart and breathing problems and endure painful arthritis. Do your pet a favor and get the weight off!

The same equation works for pets as for people. Take in less calories than you burn off and the weight will come off. In addition to decreasing calorie intake, step up the exercise a bit. For dogs, an extra trip around the block every night will do both dog and owner some good. Swimming is great exercise for overweight dogs that already suffer from painful joints. Cats are a bit more challenging, but there are many different types of toys that are designed to encourage play (exercise) for cats. Just two short sessions of play each day is probably more exercise than your cat has gotten in a long time.

To cut calories, first record all of the food and treats that your pet gets. Pet owners are notorious for giving their dogs and cats just a bite when they are making lunch or dinner. These little bites add up to significant calories, especially when we're talking about cats or small dogs. Reducing the number of treats your pet gets, or replacing high calorie treats with low-cal options may be all it takes to help melt the weight away.

If your pet is not overindulged by treats, a reduction in the amount of food that you are feeding can be the first step to cutting calories. If you are following the package recommendations, decrease the amount by 25%. Weigh your pet in 2 weeks to see how the weight loss is coming. A 2% loss per week is ideal. So, a 10 pound pet should only lose 0.2lbs per week or about 1/2 pound in 2 weeks.

Another option is changing to the light or weight loss variety of food in the brand that you are feeding. Most pet foods offer a variety that is designed to help your pet lose weight and achieve a healthy body condition. 

Talk to your veterinarian prior to beginning a weight loss program for your pet. Your vet can help you set goals and will monitor your pet's weight loss for you in many cases - just like Weight Watchers meetings! Do the right thing for your pet's health and get that extra weight off now!

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