We love our fur kids more than anything, and sometimes it’s hard to resist those cute faces when they beg for treats, but pet owners should always remember that food does not equal love. Our pets would prefer our attention and affection over a treat, even if they can seem a little food-obsessed sometimes. Is your dog or cat putting on a few extra pounds lately? Here are some feeding tips to help keep them at a healthy weight. Increased play and exercise is of course also essential to pet weight loss.
Determining if your pet is overweight
You’ve probably seen the pet body condition system (BCS) infographic online or at the vet’s office before. The BCS is a visual guide to determining if your pet is underweight, overweight, or at an ideal weight. Take a good look at your pet and see how she compares to the side view and overhead view on the BCS. You can also refer to guides that give the appropriate weights for different breeds of dogs and cats. Remember that a fluffy coat can hide those few extra pounds, too.
Choose canned food over dry food
Some dry food is good to help keep your pet’s teeth clean, but leaving an unlimited supply of dry food out is not a good idea if your dog or cat will graze on it all day long. Canned food is a better choice for weight control because the higher water content means that it is more filling but contains less calories than dry food. Talk to your vet about a prescription calorie control diet if your pet is seriously overweight.
How much and when to feed your pet
Use a kitchen scale or measuring cup to measure out the proper amounts of food. We tend to go a little heavy dishing it out when we don’t actually measure it. Keep in mind that one measured cup is much smaller than an average coffee mug. Measure out a day’s worth of dry food and dole it out to your pets over the course of the day. Cats especially like the routines associated with feeding time, so they will appreciate this interaction with you several times a day.
Make treats a genuine treat
Some pets are so used to getting daily treats that they come to expect them, which makes it more of a routine than something special. Limit the amount of treats your pet gets and try calorie-reduced treats. Read the package, you may be surprised to see how many calories are in treats. You should also think twice before feeding your pet table scraps. Certain high calorie human foods like cheese can be even more fattening for pets.
Try interactive feeding devices
Consider purchasing a food toy or dispenser to make your pet work a little for dry food. They are designed to encourage play and exercise in order to get the food out. These devices will make the food last longer and provide mental stimulation as well. You can make your own cat food puzzle toy by just cutting some small holes out of the top of a cardboard box or plastic food storage container so your cat can fish out pieces of dry food.
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