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Lifestyle

May 17, 2013

Vet Connection: The silent epidemic affecting our pets

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So, if your veterinarian has diagnosed your pet as overweight, first, don’t despair. Your veterinarian is happy to develop a plan that will safely and effectively reduce the extra pounds. Next, use tools like a Body Condition Score chart (http://www.hillspet.com/weight-management/pet-weight-score.html) to more fully understand what an overweight pet looks like.

Involve your whole family in the pet’s weight-loss process. Assign one person to be the pet’s primary feeder and make sure that no one else in the family is providing non-approved treats or snacks on the side. It may not seem like much, but even a couple of dog biscuits each day can add an extra 50 to 100 calories. That’s almost 25 percent of a small dog’s total daily requirement!

For obese pets, your veterinarian will recommend a prescription weight-reducing diet. Although you might be tempted to continue feeding the previous brand of food in smaller portions, this practice could actually lead to nutritional deficiencies. Reduction diets are specially formulated to provide the right amount of all nutrients while limiting the amount of calories.

You may need to change your pet’s feeding schedule, too. Most pet owners leave food out for their pets all day (free-choice feeding), and that often leads to the obesity problem. Or they only feed a large amount once a day. By feeding the right amount twice or even three times a day, you can actually help your pet lose more weight.

Increasing your pet’s exercise is also a crucial component to weight loss. Once your veterinarian gives the OK, try to work up to two 20-minute walks per day or even one hour-long walk. The extra benefit is the positive effects on your own health, too.

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