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Winning the battle of the bulge

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

For both cats and dogs, just like people, maintaining a healthy weight requires the ‘calories in’ to balance with the ‘calories expended’. In order to lose weight we must tip the balance so that more calories are expended than are taken in until the target weight is achieved at which point we can find our equilibrium again. Below is a list of ways we can achieve this.

1. Weigh your pet:

Before beginning a weight loss program its helpful to know your start point, have an idea of how much weight loss is required and to be able to track your progress. It’s best to choose a time of day that works for you which you can stick to regularly, for example before breakfast. This avoids any fluctuations due to eating or drinking. A great way to establish the weight of small pets is to weigh yourself, and then weigh yourself while holding your pet, the difference is your’ pets weight. For large dogs approach your local veterinary clinic to use their scales, many are happy to accommodate their clients.

2. Reduce food intake

Making each meal smaller will reduce the overall amount of food eaten through the day. Increasing the time taken to eat the food aids in allowing the pet to feel fuller, for example, using slow feeder bowls or snuffle mats, chicken wings instead of mince. Remember treats are also food so these should be reduced too; cut them out completely if you can.

3. Reduce frequency of food

Think carefully about how often you are feeding your pet, not just meals but treats too. For cats just twice a day is sufficient, dogs can do well on just once a day. If dropping a meal time is too hard for you to resist those pleading eyes, try just moving meal time a little each day so they are spaced out a little further until you are down to the once (for dogs) or twice (for cats) a day

4. Reduce calories

Swapping out some high calorie foods is great for weight loss, especially if you swap in some low-calorie foods packed with fibre and other nutrients beneficial for general health. Reduce the amount of fat and meat they are getting and add in some fibre filled vegetables like spinach, peas, and raw carrots.

5. Increase exercise

The most important aspect is the amount of exercise the pet is getting; after all, they are not going to be burning many calories sleeping on the couch all day. Try going to a new park, ‘sniffy’ walks along a river bank or meeting a friend for a doggy playdate.


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