New Year, Healthier Pet

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Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash

We often get caught up in our own resolutions and the “new year, new me” mindset. Whether or not you believe in making resolutions to eat better or exercise more each new year, it’s also important to think about resolutions that can help your pet with their health.

In Canada’s Pet Wellness Report * Canadian veterinarians identified weight management as the number one step a pet owner can take to increase the length of their pet’s life. Obesity can shorten a pet’s life expectancy by increasing their propensity to develop issues like heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver disease.

PetSmart Canada wants to share some tips and recommendations that will help point your pet in a healthier direction in 2021.

Reducing weight

The first step in a successful weight reduction plan is to have your pet examined by a veterinarian. This is important to rule out any underlying health issue and to make sure your pet can be put on a weight loss program.

“To assess if your pet is overweight or obese, we first determine their Body Condition Score (BCS) based on their physical appearance and can measure their body weight against a standard ideal body weight for your pet’s breed and sex,” says Dr. Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “Dogs and cats who are 10 to 20 per cent or more above their ideal body weight are considered overweight.”

A healthy weight loss for dogs is between one and five pounds per month depending on your dog’s breed, age and current condition. Cat owners should expect to reduce their cat’s weight by about 0.5lbs per month. Most pets will be able to achieve their ideal, healthy body weight within six to nine months and if the process takes longer, you’ll need to re-evaluate your plan.

Choose the right food

First, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before beginning any weight loss plan for your pet to ensure the pet’s overall health is top of mind. Simply reducing the amount of food your pet eats isn’t usually the right way to go about it, as you’ll want to ensure that your pet still receives their daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals. Many pet food brands have a variety of different blends to address certain issues including weight management.

Hill’s® Science Diet® and their Perfect Weight line of foods for cats and dogs provides delicious, breakthrough weight management nutrition. Perfect Weight has clinically proven technology for safe and effective weight loss with visible results within 10 weeks. For pet parents who are looking to help their pet slim down, Hill’s® Science Diet® Perfect Weight dry dog and cat foods are on sale for $9 off this January at PetSmart.

For animals who beg, try an automatic pet feeder – like this one from Petmate – that will take the owner out of the feeding equation. These devices help maintain a consistent feeding portion and schedule that can help reduce the amount of begging for food or overfeeding by shifting the attention of food delivery away from you.

Appropriate exercise

Ensuring a healthy amount of exercise for your pet is vital to maintaining a healthy body weight. Different dog breeds require a different amount of activity, however, most will need at least one 30-minute walk per day. For more athletic dogs consider a flying toy, like a disc, that you can throw across long distances to provide additional exercise. Remember safety first, if exercising at night try this Nite Ize Flashlight LED Dog Discuit that has built in LED lights – perfect for shorter and darker winter days.

For cats, several five-minute bursts of exercise during the day is ideal. Since cats don’t respond to requests to play as easily as a dog, there are a few tips to helping your cat keep healthy through exercise throughout the day:

  • Catnip is a great tool for encouraging your cat to exercise. Make sure you’re only using it in the proper play situations to avoid stress or keep cats from becoming aggressive.
  • Keep plenty of toys around and rotate the selection to mitigate boredom. Little toys with feathers and strings can be just as intriguing as a crinkle ball. It depends on your cat’s preference and personality, so try out a variety to see what they like.
  • Cat teasers, like this one from Whisker City, gives you the chance to interact with your cat and satisfy their natural instinct to hunt. Use quick and sudden movements to mimic how prey would move in the wild.
  • Try a cardboard hunting box, like this one from Whiskey City, that includes a teaser toy for additional intrigue. These boxes have a small toy inside that can be batted around through the holes and create excitement for the “hunt”.

SOURCE PetSmart Canada

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