January is a special month for pet owners as it is National Walk Your Pet Month and also recognized as National Pet Weight Loss Awareness Month. Proper weight management is as important for our furry friends as it is for us. An overweight pet can be susceptible to various health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes and heart diseases. In this blog, we will give you 15 effective ways to help your pet lose weight, including some unique ways to burn calories that you may have never thought of before.
- Set Realistic Goals – First and foremost, discuss with your veterinarian the appropriate weight for your pet’s breed, and set a realistic weight loss goal. Loosing weight at too fast of a pace can be detrimental to your pet’s health.
- Balance Diet – Feed your pet a well-balanced diet that is specifically designed for weight loss. Measure portions and avoid unhealthy table scraps such as greasy cooked meats and highly processed foods.
- Water is Important – Providing fresh water is important for weight management. Water aids digestion and helps flush out toxins. Keep a supply of fresh water available for your pet at all times.
- Stimulate Their Mind – Keeping your pet’s mind active is also important. Puzzles and interactive toys that dispense treats are a great way to encourage physical activity and mental stimulation. Engaging in intense sniffing has been proven to decrease dogs’ heart rate and reduce the secretion of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. This is ideal for keeping your furry friend occupied while meeting their natural need to search for food. Experts tell us just 20 minutes of sniffing is equivalent to an hour’s walk in terms of enrichment for your dog.
- Break Down Meals – Instead of feeding large portions, split meals into smaller ones throughout the day. Try removing approximately 10% of their normal diet and replacing it with nutritionally dense high fiber foods such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, and celery to help them feel more full.
- Use Treats Wisely – Treats should be used sparingly and must be low in calories. Giving your pet treats as rewards for good behavior can help reinforce positive habits. It is recommended to limit treats to approximately 10% of a pet’s daily diet to maintain a balanced nutrition regimen.
- Walk, Run, Swim – Take your dog on regular walks, increase the frequency and distance gradually. Go for morning jogs or swim together, these activities not only help your pet lose weight, but also build a stronger bond between you two.
- Playtime – Pet playing also burns calories and can be fun for both of you. Play fetch with your dog or make them chase a feather toy. If you don’t have time to get out with your pet everyday and they enjoy tug of war, try incorporating tug into one of your sedentary daily activities such as watching tv, between work meetings at home, or between loads of laundry.
- Yoga – Yes, you heard right! Some pets may enjoy yoga with their owners, which can help them achieve weight loss goals in a fun way.
- Minimize Stress – High levels of stress can cause weight gain in pets too, so try to minimize the stresses in their life.
- Get Enough Sleep – Make sure your pet is getting enough sleep – they may be more energetic and motivated to participate in physical activities when they rest well.
- Weight Loss Programs – Braxton’s offers nutrition and weight consultations with a Certified Nutrition Coach. We can set you up with a weight loss program that fits your pet’s lifestyle and yours! If you would like to fill out an intake form and receive a call about the concerns you have for you pet here is our Initial Questionnaire.
- Seek Professional Help – If your pet is extremely overweight or has underlying health issues, visit a veterinary nutritionist to create a customized diet and exercise plan that suits your pet’s needs.
- Engage with Trainer – Hiring a pet trainer can help improve your pets’ behavior while also helping them lose weight. We have compiled a list of local trainers that we trust to help you on our website here.
- Celebrate Success – Celebrate with your pet when they achieve a weight loss milestone. Praise them and reward them with non-food items like toys or a trip to the beach.
Keeping your pet healthy, fit and at a safe weight requires ongoing attention and dedication. Hopefully, these 15 tips will help you start your pet’s weight loss journey and get them in good form for National Walk Your Pet Month. Remember, a healthy and happy pet is a well-loved pet.