Pet owners adore their furry companions and treat them just like a part of their family. Pets indeed have their unique ways to make their pet parents feel special, and owners reciprocate the love and affection through belly rubs, cuddles, and hearty meals and treats. Food can be a great way to strengthen a bond with a pet, but what most pet lovers don’t recognize is the tendency to overfeed.

Paired with insufficient exercise, overfeeding is a primary cause of obesity. An overweight pet means that it is consuming more calories than it actually needs which can severely lower the pet’s quality of life. The danger lies in several factors which include the nutritional inadequacy of foods given to pets, the frequency of feeding, and the lack of physical activity. When obesity strikes, the pet can be vulnerable to the risk of osteoarthritis, diabetes, certain cancers, heart and respiratory diseases, and other illnesses.

Pet obesity is becoming largely common in countries like the U.S. wherein more than 50% of cats and dogs are found overweight, due to a misconception called “fat pet gap” which means the pet owners think their obese dog or cat is at a normal weight. So far, no official reports on pet obesity have been released yet in the Philippines but this health issue can be prevented with these steps.

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Regularly consult a veterinarian

Keeping score on the pet’s weight can be a complex process as it is dependent on the pet’s health condition, breed, gender, age and size. These specifics are best discussed with a veterinarian who can recommend a suitable diet for the pet to prevent obesity. Through timely pet check-ups and physical examinations, pet owners will be able to determine the next plan of action for their pets.

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Minimize treat-feeding

If pets are fed without regulation, the pet may acquire unnecessary amounts of calories that would throw off its balanced diet. Pet owners may give their pets the proper quantity of food but eventually waste their efforts by adding extra treats within the day. Therefore, it is recommended to wisely provide treats in moderation.

Some pet treats have complete and balanced nutrients, but many are not. So instead of feeding pets the whole thing at the same time, try to limit the frequency to balance the nutrients between meals and treats. It is important to note that 10% of a pet’s caloric intake should not come from pet treats alone, so treat-giving should be supplemented with a trusted food source to achieve optimal nourishment for pets. In doing this, pet owners can opt for bite-sized treats by breaking it off into smaller pieces before feeding to pets.

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Avoid giving table scraps

Human foods, unlike pet foods, have different amounts of nutrients that may be insufficient for pets. Some foods people eat can upset a pet’s digestive system, contribute to obesity or even be toxic to pets. With the additional guidance of a veterinarian, pet owners can take out the guesswork in proper pet feeding.

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Give plenty of exercise

Providing interactive toys or going outside for a walk are simple but helpful ways to keep the pets on the move throughout the day.  By balancing food consumption with a good amount of exercise, pets will be able to maintain its weight and can enjoy some mental stimulation.

Dog owners might want to consider some fun activities for their furry companions such as basic obedience training, swimming lessons, a play of catch, or going for short jogs. Cat owners on the other hand, may choose to set up a cat tower to encourage their cats to climb and jump, purchase household toys their pets can play with, or probably the most fun yet, a laser tag to spark up the cat’s playfulness.

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