Include Pets in Healthy Weight Resolutions for 2014

Nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions and of those, almost 40 percent are related to weight loss. This year, why not include pets in a weight management program to ensure they’re at a healthy, optimum weight? One type of tool veterinarians use to rate the body condition of dogs and cats is a scale one to nine, with a healthy pet being in the four to five range. When a pet is at a healthy weight, a pet parent should be able to feel the ribs, but not see them.

One way to get started is to participate in the “Pounds for Pounds” weigh-in challenge hosted by Petco, the pet supply chain, and sponsored by Blue Buffalo pet products. The goal of the challenge is to educate pet parents on what a healthy weight is for their pets and to raise funds for animal groups across the country. You can bring your dog or cat to any Unleashed by Petco location across the country to be weighed using a special in-store pet scale. Store associates will track the number of pounds weighed from January 4th to January 26th 2014 and once a store reaches 5,000 pounds, it will donate $500 to a local animal group of their choice. With 103 stores, that’s over $51,000 of potential funds nationwide. Unleashed by Petco’s associates will also offer advice on weight management and nutrition to participating pets, such as:

*Before starting a weight loss program, visit a veterinarian to find out a pet’s ideal weight. Major weight fluctuations could indicate there may be an underlying health issue.

*Pet parents are usually unaware that their pets’ food portion sizes are too large so portion control is key. When feeding pets, create markings on the cup or scoop, especially if children are feeding pets, so everyone knows the correct serving size.

*Break down meals into two to four small portions throughout the day to trick pets into feeling like they’re eating more.

*Serve high protein and low fat food to keep pets full, and remember that treats should be no more than 10 percent of caloric intake.

*Pets should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Although walks can be good for both pet and pet parents, home exercise techniques are great for days when lengthy walks outdoors are not an option. Coaching dogs to do doggy push-ups by asking them to “sit”, “lie down” and “sit” again can keep them active. Inviting another pet parent and pet for some play time in the backyard is another great option for keeping pets moving. For cats, provide plenty of opportunities for jumping up to higher levels, and play with your kitties using an action toy such as the Cat Dancer.

*Keep an eye on pets’ behavior when on a weight loss program. If they feel hungry, this can result in abnormal eating habits such as digging in trashcans or eating backyard plants. Behavior awareness will help pet parents evaluate the program and make necessary changes.

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