Every New Year comes with new goals. Most of us can relate to setting a resolution to lose a few pounds in the year to come, but weight loss can be one of the most challenging goals to maintain.

For overweight pets, this is especially true, as the difference between weight loss, maintenance, and gain can be a matter of only a few extra treats or kibbles daily. However, carrying what seems like a small amount of excess weight – even a pound – can affect our furry family member’s quality of life.

Pets love food and it’s a useful tool for communication, so we often use treats to show our pets that we love them. However, an overweight pet is not a happy pet. In fact, excess weight can result in a reduced lifespan, joint pain, and complications, as well as ailments such a kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes.

We may be so used to seeing overweight pets that it has skewed our expectations of their ideal body conditions. When looking at a dog or cat from above, the abdomen should tuck in at the waist and not be tubular. It should also be possible to count your pet’s ribs with your fingers.

Start by counting calories and creating a feeding schedule that contains fewer calories than your pet burns in a day, while still ensuring your pet’s nutritional needs are met. A small change such as using a measuring cup or food scale to serve daily portions (instead of a coffee scoop or container) may even be enough to regulate your pet’s caloric intake.

Additionally, engaging your pet in their daily requirement of 30 minutes of brisk exercise will do wonders for their health and happiness. Just like us, pets eat when they’re bored, so giving them stimulation (including mental with a slow feeder or food puzzle) can help keep their minds off over-eating.

It is extremely rewarding to see a cat or dog earn their energy and mobility back, reduce health complications, and enjoy their favourite activities to the fullest. Weight loss doesn’t have to be a challenging new year’s resolution. By being mindful of your pet’s diet and exercise, you can truly change your furry family member’s life. Now that’s something to celebrate for 2019!

Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com.  Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.