If you have a dog or cat that's a little overweight chances are you are also. Forty percent of American adults don't participate in any leisure-time physical activity. You would think having a dog most owners would be on the thinner side since you have to walk your dog daily. Not everyone does that obviously, and not everyone eats correctly either.
If your pet is overweight, you need to talk to your vet to see how much weight your dog or cat needs to lose. They may also test your animal to make sure there is no physical reason they are overweight. Once that is done then you can work on a regime that will get your pet healthy. Just to put things in perspective take a look at this chart for overweight cats:
Here’s what a few extra pounds on a cat would equate to in a human
2 pounds is similar to 28 pounds on a 140-pound woman
3 pounds is similar to 42 pounds on a 140-pound woman
5 pounds is similar to 70 pounds on a 140-pound woman
8 pounds is similar to 112 pounds on a 140-pound woman
So for the New Year how about everybody gets in shape? Make a workout plan that you and your pets can do. Set goals just as you would do for yourself, only you don't have to go it alone now. Provide at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise every day to facilitate weight loss. Here are a few suggestions to get you and your animals in purrfect shape.
Change it up
Everybody loves a good game of fetch, cat or a dog. You might want to change it up a bit by using different types of toys. It's a great agility game for your animals and it also is good for you to run after that ball a bit.
Hide and seek is fun. You hide treats (that are low calorie) and they have to find them. It's also a good mental workout for your animals. You get a little movement by having to hide things.
Hit the stairs. Every high school has a football field find the stairs to the stands. You don't have to do it in record time. Just take it slow you and your dog will get the exercise and be burning calories.
This is one you need to do in the summer -- swim at a lake or a beach. The neighbors probably don't want you doing laps in their pool but a beach or lake should work fine. Just make sure you are close by so nobody drowns in the waves. It's great for you and your dog. Your cat you might want to keep at home.
For cats to exercise, it's really all about their environment. What kind of things do you have for them to jump and climb on? Try to add a cat condo or two to your home.
Take a nice little stroll. Make it a goal for this year to at least take your dog on one walk a day. It gets you out of the house and off the couch, and it will give your dog the exercise it needs. Expand the walk each day just a little farther, so you both are getting the benefits.
Most dogs enjoy running (humans not so much unless they are already runners). Once you get the walk mastered add a little hop skip to your step and add a short run, gradually lengthen the run and before you know it, you and your dog will be doing a 5k.
Playdates are great for dogs. Find a friend your dog can run around with. Perhaps go to the dog park and see who your dog enjoys playing with. One step better is to get your dog or cat a friend they can play with at home. Animals love people but they really like another animal that is like themselves to understand exactly how they play.
Getting out at the dog park is good for you also. You get the socialization as well as the large area to throw a ball or frisbee.
How to tell
How do you really know if your animal is overweight? You should be able to feel your pet's ribs — not a layer of fat — beneath his or her fur. If you stand looking down at your pet, you should be able to see a waistline. From the side, the underbelly should be tucked up.
Food is love -- that's what the humans say anyway and people tend to not really overstuff their animals with their meals but treats are where they pack on the pounds. Beginning in 2015, pet food manufacturers will be required to include calorie counts on their packaging, although this regulation will not cover treats.
Just as with humans, when animals consume fewer calories than they burn, they lose weight. It's something you both can do together and for each other.