Putting on the Pounds

Jumping CatStruggling to squeeze into our favorite jeans after too much holiday indulging isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. Thankfully, once the holidays pass we can take control of our lives, get back into our normal routines and snap back into shape. Unfortunately, when our pets are fat, “taking control of their lives” isn’t really an option.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 50 percent of dogs and cats are overweight or obese. (The fact that an “Association for Pet Obesity Prevention” even exists is a good indicator that pet obesity is an epidemic!)  Not only are obese pets at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory problems and kidney disease, but the lives of obese pets are cut short by a year or two at best. That aside, carrying around an extra load just plain feels crummy!

Opal and Dixie only last year struggled with a weight problem thanks to too many treats and too big meal portions – my fault. I didn’t even realize they’d gotten pudgy until one day I hugged Opal and noticed that I couldn’t feel her ribs. Another day when I tried to pick up Dixie, she was like dead weight; I couldn’t for the life of me lift her! Now, these girls should typically weigh about 30 lbs, but when I weighed them Opal weighed about 33+ and Dixie, 34+. Yikes! Knowing what I know about animal health and nutrition, how could I, of all people, have let my girls become little fatties?! While 33-34 lbs. may not sound like much, it took well over a year of hard, hard work to get them down to a healthy weight. I worked maniacally on their regimen, cutting each meal portion in half and supplementing them with healthy, nutrient-rich “fillers” such as low calorie, low fat vegetables, and Flax Fur Pets, which is high in fiber. I spent longer hours in the dog park with them playing ball. I stepped up our walking pace and sometimes threw in some jogging in spurts. Our playtimes at the Crissy Field, which is their very favorite beach, became more frequent. At last they are at a healthy weight, but I don’t take it for granted. I know just how easy it is for them to gain a pound, and just how difficult it is for them to lose it. The three most essential golden rules I’ve learned are these: 1)   DON’T OVERFEED! 2) BE COMMITTED! 3) BE VIGILANT --ALWAYS!

When you’re ready to embark on the task – and it is indeed a task – begin by cutting down your pet’s meal portions and cut down or stop entirely feeding treats. Along with cutting consumption, up the exertion! For cats, interactive play is essential. Kitten, who has 

Running on Beach

never had a weight problem, is NUTS about her crazy Cat Charmer toy. I have a blast swinging that thing around and watching her go bananas. When I don’t feel like playing she’ll even entertain herself with a crumpled up piece of tin foil or some ribbon. You may not think your cat enjoys toys, but the truth is, not all cats like the same toys.  Experiment, and eventually you’ll hit the jackpot! For dogs, step up the walking time, the walking distance and the walking pace. Perhaps in time your walk can become a jog or a run – great for Fido, great for you! While out there hitting the pavement, keep an eye out for sore paw pads, especially if you frequently find yourselves on hot concrete or harsh snow. Our Healing Paw Balm is a great soother for dry, cracked, calloused or sore paws, and it’s been a particularly huge hit in this bitter winter weather we’ve been having. It’s also a must-have during those scorching summer months.

With discipline, dedication, and most importantly, a loving heart, you’ll get your pet down to a healthy weight before you know it.  Remember… they can’t do it without you.