Five practical tips for weight loss in pets

By Patty Khuly, DVM on Oct. 14, 2009
Five practical tips for weight loss in pets

Today is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. It’s a special day on which we recognize the immense rotundity of America’s household creatures with an eye towards alleviating their unnecessary suffering.

But this needn’t be a national day of mourning. As we ponder the debilitations of arthritis, the cardiac risks and the diabetic leanings we’ve subjected our pets to by way of “treat-itis” and “food-is-lovedom,” there is always a bright side: your pet’s potential.

That’s why I propose we celebrate the possibilities by offering personal pet weight loss tips almost anyone here has the expertise to offer.

I’ll go first with a few of my favorites:

1-High calorie treat replacement

Invest in determining which bite-sized fruits and vegetables your pets enjoy. Canned early peas, frozen edamame, niblets of corn, carrot nibblers, green beans. Then use them for a game of fetch. Sure, the peas will end up under the furniture, for sure, but that just makes for a rewarding walk around the furniture later on and almost inevitably adds some excitement to any lazy day.

2-Get creative with the toys

You don’t have to play outdoor fetch for an hour or run a few miles to get your pets’ hearts pumping faster (though it undoubtedly helps). Invest in a laser pointer for your cats or the best dog toy ever...a kid.

3-Extra points for extra creativity

Yes, you too can get extra-creative and hire a dog walker/runner off your neighborhood streets. A kid on the track team, an avid jogger or triathlete, even your next door neighbor’s ten year-old with extra energy and a willingness to play ball or feather-pounce for a half hour a day.

Can’t find a willing soul? Your local college or university has an online bulletin board. Advertise!

4-Nothing in life is free

Adopt this philosophy when it comes to food. Make them do something active before they’re fed. Have a kitty follow you across the room a couple of times. Have your dog run and get the ball first. Make your exercise routine precede the meal. Remember: Every last calorie counts!

5-Chart it out

This is the best trick ever––because it’s a mindful and interesting way to get your whole family on the pet weight loss bandwagon. Download a weight loss tracking form over at the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s website. Post one on the fridge. Get a starting weight. And go! If you have a hard time getting everyone to abide by a weight loss plan this is by far the best way to prove you’re really serious about it. Here's the dog form (I have my clients add in the weight every week on the left hand side.)


OK, so those are my five. What are yours?


Patty Khuly, DVM


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