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While many people start the new year off with a resolution to get healthy or lose weight, many often forget about the health and weight of their pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 53.8% of US dogs are overweight or obese, while 58.2% of US cats are overweight or obese. Just like obesity in humans, pet obesity can lead to a wide range of complications, such as joint issues and diabetes.

If you think your pet may be overweight, let’s start out with PetMD’s Healthy Weight calculator. Please know that this is just for educational purposes and, if your pet truly is overweight, your best bet would be a consultation with your veterinary professional. Now, let’s work on getting your pet back on track to a healthy weight!

Walks, Walks, and More Walks!
Not only are walks great bonding time between you and your pet, they’re also great exercise for the both of you. If your pet is used to a few short walks a day, try going a bit further in the mornings or evenings. Your pup should be winded by the end of the walk, but their breathing shouldn’t be labored. Try hikes in new locations or even a romp at a dog park. If none of works for you then we can help you walk the walk for you! Check our Dog Walking page for more info.

A Specific Feeding Schedule
They say weight loss starts in the kitchen, and the same is true for your pet. While it’s easy to know when you’ve had enough to eat, it can be a bit more difficult to determine your pet’s caloric intake or daily feeding recommendations. Your first stop should be your vet, who can help you work on your pet’s feeding schedule. Larger breeds will need more food, while smaller breeds typically eat less.

The Right Food
Do you have a picky eater at home? Is your dog food low quality? The ingredient list on the label will not tell you the quality of the ingredients or where they came from, and some manufacturers split up the ingredients to make the distribution more equal. For instance, different types of corn, such as flaked corn, ground corn, or kibbled corn, can be listed separately. This bumps corn down on the list of ingredients, even though the actual content of corn in the food is high.Meat is another tricky ingredient. Whole meats contain a large percentage of water weight, which means that the overall percentage of meat after processing is lower than it appears. Meat meal, on the other hand, sounds less appealing to us but actually contains more meat than “whole meats,” as there is no water weight to throw off the calculation.

While the ingredient list might not tell you the quality of the ingredients, it does tell you what is in the food. This is especially important for dogs with special dietary needs or allergies and is also useful for owners who wish to feed their dogs specific sources of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates.

Play Time!
Who doesn’t love a good round of fetch? Clearing up a block of time in your schedule to play with your pets will keep them active, engaged, and having a good time. Don’t forget about your cats, either. A good old toy wand or reliable laser pointer can lead to hours of entertainment. Let’s get the new year started on the right foot (or paw) and keep your pets healthy for 2017 and the years to come.