In our busy lifestyles, we are lucky to have time to eat healthy and exercise regularly ourselves, so it is not surprising that our pets are lacking a good diet and exercise plan.† As Americans are increasingly putting on the pounds, so are our pets.† When our pets put on a few extra pounds, we think they are cute (and well loved), however, when we gain a little extra weight we donít think itís so cute! A lot of times we spoil our pets with treats and table scraps, but this is not a good measure for unconditional love.† We are actually harming our furry friends.† A few extra pounds on our pets put them at a higher risk for many diseases, including Osteoarthritis.† Osteoarthritis commonly develops from weight gain and the added stress it puts on the weight-bearing joints.
As Americans increase their portion size, they add more to their petís food bowl.† It is important to review the recommended serving size on your pets bag (or can) of food.† You should follow the recommended amount for the normal size and breed of your pet, not for the size they have become.† For example, if your cat weighs 19 lbs., but should weigh 9 lbs., you should slowly decrease the amount of food you feed them until it is within the allotted measurements for a 9 lbs. cat.† When you feed your cat the recommended amount of food for the 19 lbs. it has become, it is merely storing all of the extra nutrients as fat (or your cat will eliminate them Ė in the litter box).† You should also talk to your vet about the serving size, as well as the food brands that would best serve your petís health.† Many pet foods contain an abundance of fillers that have minimal nutritional value.
When we finally have a free moment in our hectic lives, we tend to relax indoors (on the couch) instead of enjoying the outdoors.† Our health status could improve if we would get off the couch and take our dogs with us (cats not so much, but weíll get to that).† Dr. Guy Fyvie, a veterinarian advisor to Hillís Pet Nutrition, states that a dogís lifespan is shortened by at least two years if it is even slightly overweight.† To humans, this would be equivalent to shaving fifteen years off of our lives.† Here are a few suggestions of activities that you can enjoy with your dog, and you can both benefit from:
Take your dog to a local dog park.† You can play ball and fetch.
If you have a source of water nearby, a dog friendly beach, lake, or river, take your dog swimming or walk along the water. Get your friends or family involved.† You can play frisbee or keep away (but let your dog get the toy sometimes)
Play hide and seek.
Indoor cats tend to be a little more difficult to coax into exercise.† Play Stations with different activity stands can be found at local pet shops and can keep your cat involved and intrigued.† You may try putting your cat on a collar and leash and taking him outdoors.† Interactive toys can get you both moving around.† Laser pointers can sometimes encourage cats to run around the house in search of the mysterious red dot.† Catnip toys can also provide an energy boost, or it may at least keep them from napping all day on the windowsill.†