Last week I wrote about fighting weight problems in our pets. The diet part is calculable – your vet can explain how many calories your pet will need per day in order to reduce weight. Factoring in your pet’s age and health, caloric intake will need to be adjusted for a realistic reduction over time. If there are any restrictions, like diabetes and heart ailments, it can influence what choices you have for a pet’s diet.
This means a big change in feeding your pet. If you are used to leaving food out for your pet to self-regulate his or her feeding, you may have to dig out a measuring cup. Metering the portions you feed your pet will take time to get used to. That’s why a chart to follow is helpful. You’ll be able to look at your pet’s progress over time, even it seems like no progress is being made some days.
Expect some complaining. It will take longer to get food ready if you’re going to take control of portions by measuring them. Measure a few meals out ahead of time, if you can store food in containers in the cupboard (this is for dry food, mind you). You’ll be able to put a meal in front of your pet pronto if you have them pre-measured.
Expect some begging. You may have to steel yourself against those puppy dog eyes looking up at you beside the dining room table. Stop thinking of your pet as a roaming garbage disposal!
And if you’re eating something yummy that has an aroma your pet adores, make the dining room off limits during meals.
The hardest part? Exercise. Dogs can walk, fetch sticks, catch Frisbees. Cats can… well, chase bugs? Groom themselves? How about chasing laser pointer dots, or catching a feather-tipped wand? You can put your thinking cap on and figure out how to get the cats actively playing again.
All this toil will be worth it in improved good health. Don’t give up. Changing habits takes time: figure at least 21 days to establish a new routine.
And if you manage to get the diet plan up and running into autumn, you’ll be ready to resist the temptations of holiday feasts once December rolls in.
Then you can look at your pet’s body, stretched out and snoozing peacefully, and be glad for another season as your dog or cat’s best friend.