Healthy Weight Loss for You and Your PetsPosted: April 11, 2012 in Lifestyle by Craig Primack MD FACP
Many residents trying to achieve excess weight loss in Chandler and Scottsdale are most likely doing so to live healthier lifestyles and reduce their risks of potential diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle is important to us, and so the same rules should apply for our beloved pets.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, nearly 85 million pets are overweight or obese—that’s half of all dogs and cats in American homes. Just like humans who are suffering from obesity, overweight animals are also at risk for diabetes and heart disease. Unfortunately for them, sometimes it’s too late to lose the weight necessary to live healthily, and many succumb unnecessarily to lengthy, painful illnesses.
So, it may be time to dig out that leash—wherever it is—and go for a nice long walk, for your own sake as well as your companions.
Pet Obesity Risks
Many pet owners don’t realize popular breeds such as golden retrievers, German shepherds and Yorkshire terriers are already susceptible to genetic orthopedic problems—but carrying excess weight can cause these problems to develop earlier, and in a much more severe state.
Humans who are struggling with weight issues on the other hand are able to consult their weight loss doctors for additional help and advice. Changing diet and exercise take commitment, but most of the time our bodies’ are able to adjust as we happily shed the pounds.
Certain animals might not have this advantage. Trying to get an overweight pet back into shape carries risks. For example, trying to get your overweight lab or boxer into shape by running can be counterproductive, as a lot of obese dogs have arthritis and running can worsen their condition or cause further injury.
The same risks apply to cats—if you think severe calorie restriction will help your precious friend lose weight healthily, think again. Cutting a cat’s calorie intake dramatically can cause the body to send stores of fat to the liver to be converted to glucose. As time progresses, the liver is overloaded with fat deposits which can cause hepatitis.
Before making sudden and drastic changes to your pet’s lifestyle, make sure the pet is healthy for the new diet or exercise plan.
Also, just like your own eating habits, maintain a healthy portion for your pet’s meals and make sure to not to overfeed them. Take care of yourself and your pet—the same mindset you apply to your weight loss goals and habits should be extended to your pets, too!
Your Pet is your Ultimate Workout Partner!
If your canine pal is up to the challenge, then get outside and start being more active together. Dog parks are a great place for dogs to socialize and run around, and you can get a workout by trying to keep up!
Keep your pets and yourself healthy by getting plenty of exercise together and drinking a lot of water. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise each day can help keep both of you in shape.
Here are a few fun pet and owner exercise tips you can try:
- A long walk through the neighborhood
- Grab a Frisbee or a tennis ball and play a game of catch in the yard with your dog
- Play chase with your dog by doing short sprints across the backyard
- Try taking on obstacle courses by taking your dog to obedience classes where they can learn how to run through different challenges
- Grab a laser pointer and encourage your cat to climb up the wall
- It may be old-fashioned, but a ball on a string can drive a cat crazy and encourage them to run around a whole bunch.
If it has been a while since you and your pup have headed out for a stroll, or if your cat is growing to the size of the pillow it is sleeping on, then it may be time to get up and make exercise a family activity for you and your darling critters.