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Pet Diet & Fitness
Pet weight management is an important aspect of pet care that many pet parents might not think of until it’s a problem. But, as the adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is especially true when it comes to pets who’ve been packing on those pounds, or who come up short on the scale.
What is pet diet and fitness?
Pet diet and fitness involves ensuring that your pet is getting enough exercise on a daily basis in order to maintain a healthy weight. Activities such as walking, playing fetch, or playing with toys are all types of fitness activities that you can do to help your pet to maintain their weight. Weight management can also involved helping an underweight animal to gain weight.
Why is pet diet and fitness important?
Pet diet and fitness are important for a number of reasons. First, daily exercise and fitness activities help to give your pet the mental stimulation it requires in order to stay healthy.
Second, maintaining an ideal weight will help your pet to live a longer, more comfortable life. Obesity in pets contributes to a number of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and joint problems.
Daily physical fitness benefits pets much in the same way it benefits their owners — by improving cardiovascular health, strengthening muscles, reducing depression, and helping maintain a healthy weight.
How can I tell if my pet is overweight?
Many pet parents might not even notice that their pet has gained weight, since the pounds can creep on slowly over time. Different animals and breeds will have different healthy weight ranges. If your pet’s ribs are difficult or impossible to feel when you place your hands on their side, they are likely overweight.
Other signs of obesity in pets include:
- Ribs cannot easily be felt when running your hand along your pet’s side
- Loss of an obvious waist
- Collar needs loosening
- Difficulty walking
- Slow movement
- Shortness of breath
- Bad temper
- Sleeping more than usual
Conversely, a pet that is underweight will have a waist that is noticeably more narrow than its rib cage, with the outline of individual ribs quite prominent. They might also be fatigued, irritable, and need their collar tightened as a result.
How to solve weight problems
If your pet is overweight, reducing their caloric intake while increasing physical activity levels is key to getting them back to a healthy weight. There are specially-formulated weight loss diets for cats and dogs that can help with this, or your vet may have a prescription food they recommend. Dogs and cats can benefit from fitness tools such as treadmills, pools, exercise pens, and toys in order to increase their activity levels.
For pets that are underweight, increasing their calories is the best way to help them get to a healthy weight. Your vet might recommend blood work in order to rule out any possible medical conditions that might cause them to be underweight, such as diabetes or thyroid issues. If your pet has a medical condition that is contributing to their weight struggles, you might be able to give them a medication in order to help balance their body’s hormones.
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