Pet Weight Loss

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     How do I get my pet to lose weight?  

We have a big problem in our pet population in that many of them are overweight. They look at us with big sweet eyes and how do you not give that next treat. We are so busy as owners with work and life and all, sometimes finding time to exercise ourselves is tough, much less, do so with or for our pets.

Just like in people, the rules for weight gain or loss are about the same. It is important to make sure that there is no underlying medical condition that is causing the extra weight. Such illnesses as low thyroid and/or high cortisone (Cushing's Disease) can caused increased weght gain that just won't respond to the usual of diet and exercise. Other diseases can make it seem like a pet is getting fat, but it is just an enlarged belly from a tumor or fluid retention such as from a heart or liver condition. Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can cause weight gain as well. So, always be sure to have your beloved animal checked out if a weight change occurs before assuming it is just a nutritional issue or lack of exercise.

If medically everything is okay, then the next step is picking a diet. Increasing the fiber content of food will make your pet feel full even though consuming less calories. There are plenty of commercial foods that have this type of formula. You can also add psyllium or other types of fiber to the diet if you prefer to cook. If your pet will eat raw vegetable that can do the same as well. You can just decrease the amount of food fed and feed in meals, not free feeding, as well. Do this decrease slowly to not create major hunger issues. It takes probably more restraint to tell our pets "no" than ourselve when dieting is being done. So, controlling our own urges to give them more or snacks has to be done. Also, it is necessary to get everyone in the household to agree that they will abide by the diet rules for the pet.

If you change diets, do so slowly to not create digestive upsets or diarrhea. Cats especially don't take to diet changes well and may not want to eat the new food so be patient. Caution though, don't let a cat not eat at all for more than a couple days as it can severely affect their livers. Speakiing of cats, there are high protein, low carbohydrate diets used for diabetes treatment that also work well for weight loss, if your cat won't eat a high fiber type diet.

Then we have exercise. Dogs are much easier on this as most love to play and run. You can hook a dog up to a leash and jog or take them to an off leash area and just let them do what they will. You can throw balls and frisbies. You can take dogs for a swim. The ways to exercise a canine are almost endless.

Cats, on the other hand, can be a challenge. Sometimes the best you can do is put their food at the one far end of the house and their litter box at the other far end. Toy mice and cold laser lights and other cat toys can help. I take one of my cats out on a leash-of course he walks me- but he gets some exercise that way. Definitely, you may need to create time for enticing your cat to play to get them to do so.

So there are the basics for healthy pet weight loss. Hope it helps.

If you are trying to get in shape yourself, check out our other site

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Dr. Jan

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