How to prevent pet obesity with diet and exercise as well as what to do if your pet is already overweight


Exercise and a healthy diet are two of the most important aspects of everyday life. They are responsible for keeping us happy and healthy. Many people strive to complete marathons or drink kale smoothies every day to stay fit and healthy. However, they may not always think that our pets need similar care. In fact, we may not realize just how important exercise and a healthy diet are for our pets. Some breeds are also highly prone to weight gain, and if their owners do not prevent or correct the issue early on then, their pets may become obese. However, there are a lot of ways to prevent obesity or correct unwanted weight gain to keep our pets healthy and happy.

Exercise importance for our pets:

Every pet needs exercise. From the tallest horse on the farm to the smallest mouse in a cage. Without proper physical exercise, our pets would become lazy couch potatoes and would begin to gain unwanted weight rapidly. This is certainly the case for the most popular pets in the world; cats and dogs. Cats and dogs require physical exercise to remain at a healthy body weight. However, their types of activities will likely vary as a result of their physical needs as well as their abilities. For example, both cats and dogs could run an agility course, but, dogs are most likely to run an outdoor course than cats would.

If our pets are not provided adequate exercise every day, then they can experience any number of problems. One issue that may arise is destructive behavior including digging, scratching, and chewing. This issue is primarily a problem that dogs might face. Dogs that are not adequately exercised each day will begin to find other ways to occupy their time. They may then start chewing on the legs of your furniture, digging in your garden or scratching the doorways. Our unexercised pets may also suddenly become interested in the kitchen garbage, playing at night, or hyperactivity. The potential issues don’t stop there! Dogs and cats can also begin to suffer from health conditions including difficulty breathing in warm weather, back problems, arthritis or torn ligaments, as well as cardiac problems.

obese dog

Types of exercises and their benefits to our dogs:

Dogs and their owners may want to take advantage of the great outdoors for their exercises. They can play a game of fetch in a fenced in backyard. A game of fetch requires the owner to throw the dog’s favorite toy, ball, or even a stick. The further the owner throws the object, the longer in distance the dog is required to go in order to retrieve it. Dogs retrieve objects instinctively which makes the game of fetch an easy and fun way to exercise physically for both the dog and the owner, alike. The backyard is a perfect place to host any number of activities. It provides a safe, secure, and relaxing environment for dogs and their owners. It is also a very convenient place. However, the backyard should not be the only place your dog exercises. Dogs should also be taken for a walk or jog around the neighborhood at least once a day. By allowing your dog to walk or jog around the neighborhood, on their leash, you are not only providing adequate exercise, but you are also offering them socialization and environment training.

Another great activity that dogs and their owners can do together is to enjoy a day at a dog park or dog-friendly beach. The dog park is an ideal place for your dog and other dogs from the neighborhood to get together. They can then play, run, and challenge each other during physical activities such as a game of tug of war or tag. These dog parks are also a great place for your dog to be properly socialized with other dogs. When your dog is playing and exercising with other dogs, his heart rate is highly increased, and his muscles are working extra hard. These are very beneficial physical traits. Working your dog’s cardiovascular system will help keep his heart pumping strong for many years to come and may reduce his risk of heart disease. It also means that his lung muscles are becoming stronger and therefore healthier. His muscles are also being exercised which will increase his physical strength and may reduce his risk of arthritis as well as hip and joint dysplasia.

Without these and various other activities, our canine companions would become overweight and very ill. They would likely suffer from any number of health conditions including heart failure, arthritis, and eventual death. Exercise can also ensure that new puppies are fatigued at night, rather than rambunctious.

Types of exercises and their benefits to our cats:

Felines are usually much more independent than our canine companions. Their independence typically means that they are less likely to follow demands or learn tricks. However, there are many cases of cats bonding to their owners and wanting to be involved in daily activities. It is then entirely possible that your cat will jog alongside you on the treadmill, do yoga, or play a game of fetch. Cats are also excellent hunters. If there is a mouse in the house, you can be sure to witness your cat running and pacing around the house until the mouse is caught. If there isn’t a mouse, then you can invest in a remote control mouse toy. These motorized mice are then controlled by you and chased by your cat. They will spend hours trying to catch the rodent. This activity will increase your feline’s heart rate thus working his cardiovascular system. There are also toys that resemble a feather duster. These toys are ideal for imitating a bird flying overhead. This activity ignites their prey drive and brings out the hunter in them as well. Your cat will then go to any lengths to capture the prey. This may involve running, jumping, leaping, pouncing, and climbing furniture or cat trees. All of which are excellent activities to get your cat (and yourself) moving. However, it is important to add that your cat may lose interest in the activity. Keep the game short, but vigorous. Experts recommend ten-minute increments of vigorous exercise at least three times per day.

Exercise and play with your cat can increase the bond between you and may help your cat learn new tricks. Exercise can also reduce the risk of your cat expressing destructive behaviors, reduce their digestive troubles, and build their confidence. Exercise and playtime also help keep our felines agile, limber and healthy.

lazy cat on a treadmill

Mental exercise importance for our pets:

Mental exercise is equally as critical as physical exercise. What is mental exercise? Mental exercise is an activity, game, or object that challenges our pets mentally as well as physically. It is vital to keep our pets minds sharp. Their ancestors were naturally intelligent, agile, active, and resourceful creatures. Today, our felines and canines sit by our side on the couch watching television. This “activity” is not healthy for their bodies or their minds (nor is it healthy for ours). If a pet is bored, they will likely begin to suffer from depression, anxiety, and also start to gain unwanted weight rapidly. However, there are various activities to help prevent these issues from occurring.

Types of mental exercises for our dogs:

  • Puzzle toys: Puzzle toys are usually round and similarly shaped to their favorite toy ball. These toys are then filled with treats or food. The pooch will use his nose, feet, and mouth to move the puzzle toy around the room. The puzzle toy will dispense the treats or food from within once the dog has moved the toy correctly.

puzzle toy for dogs

  • Bring out their wolf: This mental exercise involves the owner placing the food bowl (around feeding time) in a different location of the house. It is then up to the dog to sniff out his meal. You can also place piles of kibble around the house or yard for your little wolf to find.

These and various other mental exercises will challenge your dog’s mind while getting him up and moving!

Types of mental exercises for our cats:

  • Toys: This is a very basic kind of activity. Cats enjoy playing with their owners but, they also enjoy playing alone. Toys that make sound or move are excellent options as they can stimulate the cat’s hunting abilities. This will then bring out their problem-solving techniques and challenge them.
  • Objects: Another very basic activity. However, cats enjoy investigating new territory. Therefore, if you place a couple of cardboard boxes around your home or relocate the cat trees, then your cat will become curious and need to investigate the situation further.
  • Outdoor experience: Some cats may enjoy being outside. After all, that is where the birds and squirrels are! However, cats should never be outside unattended or without a leash. Walking your cat around the yard or neighborhood on a leash will offer him intense mental and physical stimulation as he surrounds himself with new smells, visuals, and feelings.

Some experts believe that with the combination of physical exercise and mental exercise, our pets can completely avoid becoming overweight or obese.

Importance of a healthy diet for our pets:

Having a balanced diet is essential for living a long and healthy life. Owners may already feed themselves a well-rounded diet. What they may not realize is that their pets deserve the same respect. Our pets have daily nutritional requirements of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It is our responsibility as their owners that we provide food that fulfills these daily nutritional requirements. If our pets consume the right foods in the right quantities, then they are far less likely to experience unwanted weight gain or obesity. Preventing obesity is the goal! Choosing a pet food that has been designed for your pet’s particular age, species and overall activity level is the first step in preventing pet obesity.

So, what do our pets need to consume each day in order to have a well-balanced diet?

Water:

Possibly the most important part of a healthy diet is water. Our bodies and our pet’s bodies are primarily made up of water. Therefore, it is vital that we consume it. For example, the body of an adult dog is approximately 60% water; puppies are about 84% water. Water helps the body systems stay healthy and working correctly. For example, our pets will be less likely to suffer from constipation if they are consuming adequate water which will help keep their digestive systems regular. With this fact in mind; we should be sure to provide clean, fresh water to our pets each day.

Protein:

Protein is another essential part of our pet’s daily nutritional requirements. Proteins are known as the building blocks of a healthy life and diet. Dogs and cats are carnivores which mean that they would greatly benefit from animal proteins rather than vegetable protein. Their kibble should list animal protein sources as the first few ingredients in order to be a high-quality kibble choice.

Fats:

Fats are another component of the nutritional requirements for our pets. They are responsible for providing energy to the body. Without fats, the body would not be able to function to its highest standards. Fats are typically found from either plant sources or animal sources. While fats are essential to living a full energetic life, there needs to be a balance to prevent overconsumption of fats from the wrong sources. This can be incredibly confusing to pet owners because it can be hard to distinguish the right fat sources from the bad ones. The fat content provided to our pets should be limited as fats can quickly become a dangerous food additive.

Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are another critical component for our pet’s daily nutritional requirements. Carbohydrates are another source of energy for the body. However, carbohydrates can be given in excess. Carbs are a less expensive source of energy that is also filling. Therefore, kibble companies will develop a greater quantity of carbohydrates in their pet food to make it more filling with cheaper materials. Carbohydrates will then help your pet pack on the pounds in an unhealthy fashion.

Vitamins and minerals:

Vitamins and minerals are found in various food sources and are responsible for improving the biochemicals in our pets.

cat and dog eating

As pet owners, it is our responsibility to provide high-quality food and adequate daily exercise for our pets. Without the appropriate amount of exercise and quality kibble, they will fall short of their daily nutritional requirements. Pets that fall below the dietary and exercise requirements will suffer from anorexia and become very ill. Pets that are provided a higher calorie, higher fat content diet, will significantly exceed their daily needs and therefore will become obese. Owners should take caution when choosing a kibble, and they should also be ready to provide proper exercise each day. A good rule to follow for pet owners and their pets; weight is easier to pack on than it is to take off.


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