Pet obesity is on the rise. As of 2018, around 60% of cats and 56% of dogs were considered overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention — its highest reckoning yet.
However, not all pet owners realize that their pet is overweight. (By the way, if you’re not sure, it’s best to get a professional opinion from your veterinarian.)
Overweight pets are sometimes labeled as funny or cute — and they are. Personally, we believe that all pets are funny, cute, perfect, and deserving of unconditional love. However, it’s important to recognize that pet obesity is linked to impairments in respiratory, cardiovascular, and kidney function, as well as reduced quality of life and higher mortality.
So if you and your pet think it’s time to get serious about fitness, here are five pet weight loss tips to keep it fun.
1. Scatter Food Around the House or Yard
“Scatter feeding” forces pets to work for their meals, as opposed to bowl feeding, which allows pets to scarf down their breakfast. The challenge of searching for bits of food keeps pets entertained and active.
2. Use a Puzzle Feeder or an Interactive Feeder
This pet weight loss tip is also a mental challenge! Use a puzzle feeder toy to dispense bits of food — this will engage your pet’s instinct to work for their meal. You can also try out an interactive feeder (like this one) that, similar to scatter feeding, forces your pet to slow down, use their brain, and work a little bit for each morsel.
3. Play Monkey in the Middle
Grab a friend and one of your pet’s favorite treats. Throw the treat back and forth so that it’s always just out of your pet’s reach. If you don’t occasionally let them win, they’ll lose interest, so it’s important to flub a throw every once in a while. Once your pet finally “wins” the game, getting plenty of exercise in the process, reward them with their supper. Disclaimer: Cats may not have the patience for such tomfoolery.
4. Take Them to a Dog Park (Or Cat Park?)
Socialization is especially important for puppies, but even if your dog is all grown up, that doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from hanging out with other dogs and chasing each other’s tails. With the freedom of unleashed playtime outdoors, your dog will give herself plenty of exercise while you sit back and relax.
5. Go For a Walk
It’s simple, easy, and good for the mental and physical health of you and your pet. For many dogs, there is no greater joy in life than a walk by the beach or lake with the person they love the most — you! And while it might seem uncommon, many cats enjoy being taken along for walks too. Give it a try and see how your cat reacts.
The most valuable pet weight loss tip we can offer is getting their diet in check. It’s critical to talk to your vet and learn how many calories your pet should consume daily and what their ideal weight is, so you know what to work toward. Once you have a goal, you can have fun working together to meet it!