Time to get fit...Together!
It’s that time to make New Year’s resolutions! If your resolution involves losing weight and getting more fit you’re in luck. You’ve likely got the perfect fitness partner right at your feet. Did you know more than half of the cats and dogs in the US are considered either overweight or obese? Why not work together with your pet on that New Year’s resolution??
Before starting any weight loss program, check in with us to make sure your pet doesn’t have any underlying medical condition that could make their weight loss harder to achieve, or even painful or unsafe to pursue. Thyroid conditions, arthritis, or heart disease are some of the conditions we screen for. We can also check for simple things such as making sure your pet’s toenails are the proper length to make exercise comfortable. We can also help you determine your pet’s ideal body weight.
Weight loss in cats and dogs should proceed slowly, with a target rate of loss no greater than approximately 1-2% of their body weight per week. To help achieve that:
Measure their food with an actual measuring cup
Stop feeding “free choice” and switch to meal feeding
Cut back on treats – start by cutting all treats in half or quarter to easily cut back on calories.
If you feed dry food, try some of the great interactive puzzle toys or treat balls to feed them in, such as an Outward Hound Fun Feeder, pictured to the left. It can slow them down and give them some mental and physical stimulation.
Increase their exercise and play time. Regular excercise helps pets maintain agility and a healthy weight.And...dogs...according to a study from Journal of Experimental Biology...also get the neurobiological reaction known as "runner's high" after moderate and intense activity.
Get outside! Go for more and farther walks together.Throw the ball or Frisbee ...in warm weather, take them swimming.Walking in water is also great exercise, and easy on the joints. Some medium/larger dogs make great running buddies.It is recommended you wait to begin until dogs are at least a year old(when growth plates close), and increase your mileage gradually - by no more than 10 to 20 percent per week to avoid injury or fatigue.
Give them a job – try agility, herding, dock diving, scent work, or just work on their training.
When it is too cold or wet to go outside – try indoor games such as kibble hide-and-seek, throw the ball or laps up and down the steps.
There are treadmills on the market designed specifically for dogs. You can also use a human treadmill—but take the right precautions. Spend a few days familiarizing your dog with how it works. Use a slow speed and stand in front of the treadmill with a treat. Over three or four days, slowly increase the speed and the amount of time your pup spends on the treadmill. Work up to the same amount of time you normally spend on walks.
Hide food around the room or house to make a food treasure hunt for your cat.
Increase play using laser pointers, feather danglers...or, as we all know, cats often enjoy simple toys you make for them from milk rings or crumpled paper more than the purchased ones. Empty toilet paper rolls can also be made into great cat toys – check out this link for some great ideas!
Treat rattle: Fold one end of toilet paper roll inside to create a semi-closed end. Place several cat treats inside, and fold the other end to create another semi-closed end.
Or...get a One Fast Cat exercise wheel for about $200. This one takes a bit of getting used to by cats...but they do seem to enjoy it and if it works, far less expensive than the costs associated with the complications of feline obesity – diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure.
Have fun, Good luck, and Happy New Year!