We don’t know how or when it happens, but it does. Those extra pounds just seem to creep up on us overnight every winter. We swore last year it wouldn’t happen again, but here we are struggling to zip up our favorite jeans.
The same thing happens to our four-legged friends. They slow down and sleep more during the cold weather. The other day I put a sweater on my little dog that was loose on her a few months ago and noticed it was fitting a little more snug. I refer to my dog as my little Pita pocket. My daughter-in-law says she is now a stuffed Pita pocket! How embarrassing.
I know what we are doing wrong at my home. My husband loves to give her treats. He does the same with our cats, but they are very slender (Siamese) and never have this problem. So we are cutting back with her food portions and really limiting the treats. Sorry, Pita, but it is for your own good!
Over-weight pets face a lot of health risks: diabetes, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and many forms of cancer, to name a few. Overweight cats have the added risk of fatty liver disease and lower urinary tract disease. So what do we do? The best answer is to get moving.
Now that the nice weather is around the corner take your friend out for a walk around the neighborhood or a hike through the woods. Going out for a walk gives your dog mental stimulation as well as satisfies the migration instinct all dogs have. We are fortunate to have dog parks in a few of our area towns, and they are the perfect spot for your dogs to run and play and get the exercise they need while making new friends.
Before you go make sure your pets are up to date with vaccinations. Just like our children need to be vaccinated before they start school, the same goes for our pets. We wouldn’t want a preventable illness to ruin a good time.
Slimming down an over-weight cat isn’t as easy. When cats were in the wild, they had to hunt for food and be very athletic to avoid predators. In today’s world we know that keeping our cats indoors is the safest place for them. Studies show indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats. Because of this more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle, indoor cats can become bored and sedentary. Hence, weight gain.
Don’t be discouraged. There are many fun ways to exercise your cat, and by doing so you can also reinforce the bond you have with your pet. Before you start, have your veterinarian exam your pet and make sure there are no medical reasons for your pet’s weight gain. When you get the go-ahead from your veterinarian, have some fun. Cats love anything that moves. Throw a ping pong ball around for them. They love the bounce, bounce, bounce of the ball. My male cat loves me to throw the ping pong ball up in the air, and he jumps and slaps it back to me like a volley ball. Crinkle some paper and see how long they are amused by it. If you have two cats they may bat it back and forth.
Speaking of two cats, if you only have one cat, now you might consider getting a friend for your cat. They love to stalk and chase each other. This may be the simple solution to your cat’s weight problem.
If you have cats but no dog and you would benefit from a good walk in the park, see if you can “borrow” a neighbor’s dog to take on a stroll. I’m sure there is a dog close by that would love the extra attention that maybe its owner can’t give due to their age, medical condition or work obligations. Of course, you can always visit our shelter to see what dogs we have available and adopt your very own walking companion (the cat and dog pictured here are still waiting at the shelter for the new home). This is a win-win for everyone involved.
However you choose to exercise your pet, the important thing is doing it together, and this will definitely reinforce the bond you have with your animal. Just don’t forget to stop and smell the roses along the way.