When it comes to keeping pets at a healthy weight, humans can contribute to both the problem and the solution. Just as people need to control the temptation to overindulge, pet owners need to control the temptation to overindulge their pets. Armed with the knowledge that extra treats and table scraps can have a negative impact on a pet’s health, it’s never too late to make some changes for the better with these tips.
Fight the Beg
Proper feeding habits can help with pet obesity
(Family Features) When it comes to keeping pets at a healthy weight, humans can contribute to both the problem and the solution. Just as people need to control the temptation to overindulge, pet owners need to control the temptation to overindulge their pets.
A survey of pet owners by Royal Canin in 2018 revealed that more than half of cat and dog owners always or often give their pets food if they beg for it, and almost a quarter of cat and dog owners sometimes overfeed their pets to keep them happy.¹
“When sad eyes plead for one more treat or constant meowing reminds you the treats are in easy reach, it’s common for pet owners to give in to the temptation and play into that begging behavior,” said Dr. Eric Mueller, veterinarian and Royal Canin spokesperson. “Unfortunately, in the long run, those quick responses can have some damaging results for a pet’s overall health.”
Estimates suggest that as many as 59 percent of dogs and 52 percent of cats worldwide are overweight1. Yet according to the survey, only a quarter of cat and dog owners describe their pets as overweight. The survey also revealed owners may not understand how much food cats and dogs need or what they should or should not eat.
The strong emotional bond between owners and their pets may be part of the issue. Many owners express affection for their pets through feeding, which can easily lead to the pet consuming more calories than it needs. In the survey, 59 percent of cat and dog owners said they feel rewarded when feeding their pets and 77 percent said their animals get excited about being fed.
However, many owners are not fully aware of the consequences of overfeeding their pets. More than 60 percent of survey respondents were unaware that overweight pets may be susceptible to diabetes and orthopedic disease. Pet owners also reported a lack of awareness in the relationship between their pets’ excessive weight and reduced quality of life, increased risk of heart disease and shorter lifespans.
Armed with the knowledge that extra treats and table scraps can have a negative impact on a pet’s health, Mueller says it’s never too late to make some changes for the better:
Talk to a veterinarian. Obesity is a medical concern. Pet owners should feel comfortable seeing their veterinarian to start a conversation about their pet’s weight. If a veterinarian identifies that there is an issue, he or she can develop a weight loss plan to help a pet reach its ideal weight and body condition, as well as discuss solutions to help control begging during the weight loss process.
Practice smart nutrition. Not surprisingly, proper nutrition is often one of the first solutions a veterinarian is likely to recommend to address a pet’s weight problem. One option your veterinarian may recommend is ROYAL CANIN VETERINARY DIET® SATIETY® SUPPORT cat and dog formulas, which provide great taste and are clinically proven to support weight loss and help reduce begging. The formulas use the highest industry standards and quality ingredients and are designed to help keep pets feeling full and satisfied between meals.
Focus on portion control. Although many varieties of pet food include recommended serving sizes on the packaging, those servings are general guidelines and don’t take into account a pet’s unique circumstances and dietary needs. A better approach when working to bring a pet’s weight down is to measure out the recommended feeding amount directed by a veterinarian.
Encourage exercise. Encourage regular physical activity. This can be anything from brief periods of play to long walks. Remember to adjust the intensity based on the individual abilities of your pet.
Maintain consistency. Changing behaviors can be challenging. Your personal motivation and commitment are critical to the success of your pet’s weight loss program. Remember that a pet is not likely to immediately understand why the treats have ceased or why mealtime looks different. Attention-seeking behaviors may even amplify for a time. Hold firm and be consistent in resisting those begging eyes and you can find the process becomes easier for both of you.
Learn more about managing your pet’s nutritional and dietary needs at RoyalCanin.com .
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images (Dogs playing with ball)
¹ Royal Canin 2018 Online Survey of Pet Owners
(BPT) - Approximately 48 million Americans face food insecurity every day, according to Feeding America, a non-profit organization and network of more than 200 food banks. That means they, and their pets, face uncertain access to a sufficient amount of affordable, healthy food.
"People who face food insecurity should not have to sacrifice the unconditional love and companionship pets bring to their lives," says Joann Fuller, U.S. Shelter Engagement Manager for Hill's Pet Nutrition. "Most food pantries also accept pet food donations. So when you drop off a bag of dog or cat food, you're helping a family in need take care of their best friend."
Recognizing the need to provide year-round help for families and pets in need, Hill's has partnered with VCA Charities, the philanthropic arm of VCA Hospitals, to support the organization's Pet Food Pantry program. The program's goal is to provide healthy, nutritious pet food to families that could not otherwise afford it. Created in 2010 in Venice, California, the program and participating pantries have served more than 1.5 million meals to pets in 30 locations across the U.S. and Canada.
"Many people feel financially tapped out after the holidays, but helping families and pets in need doesn't have to cost a lot," Fuller says.
Here are six simple ways you can help families in need care for their pets:
*Have you ever bought a bag or case of pet food your pet wouldn't eat? Consider donating it to your local food pantry.
*Many pantries provide volunteers with printed paper bags to use in gathering food donations. Ask your local food pantry for some donation bags and drop them off at homes in your neighborhood. Include a note asking for pet food donations and let your neighbors know when you'll be back to pick up the filled bags and deliver them to the food pantry.
*Contact your local homeless shelter to find out what they need to help care for the pets of the homeless people in your community. Donating extra blankets and pet sweaters could help keep those pets warm throughout the winter.
*Shelters for victims of domestic violence may need help with temporary housing for pets of families in transition. Contact your local shelter to see if they have a fostering program that needs volunteers.
*Seniors who no longer drive may have trouble accessing regular veterinary care for their pets. Check with your local senior center or county's department of senior services to see if you can volunteer to drive seniors and their pets to veterinary appointments.
*Contact your veterinary clinic or others in your area to see if they have programs in place to provide free or reduced-cost medical care to pets in need. You may be able to donate cash or supplies, or simply volunteer your time.
"When families are struggling with food insecurity, homelessness, financial hardship or transition, they need the unconditional love of their pets more than ever," Fuller says. "By helping provide for pets, you're also doing something good for the humans who love them - and that's something you can feel good about all year long."
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