By Shelby Davidson

We all take it a little personally when someone calls our pet overweight. It makes us feel like bad pet parents to have let our beloved fur babies get to their current state. I unfortunately feel this way every time someone sees my 20-pound cat Lillian, with her large stomach dragging on the ground. It is really quite embarrassing — for me, and for her.

There are a variety of factors that go into your pet’s weight, and it can be difficult to determine to how to help them shed the offending extra pounds, seeing as cats cannot really go for walks and dogs tend to eat everything in sight — even if it is not food. However, there are ways to help your pet more active.

How Do You Detect Weight Issues?

Dogs

Similar to detecting a weight issue with humans, it is largely a visual test. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), you should be able to feel you dog’s ribs, but not see them. You should also be able to see your dog’s waist easily and the abdomen should be tucked up.

Cats

If you think your cat is looking large and in charge, you are not alone. According to the APOP 2016 clinical survey, 58.9 percent of cats are clinically overweight. A telltale sign of excessive weight is if your cat has a low hanging belly. This indicates that your cat has an excess of abdominal fat.

How Do You Help Your Pet?

Dogs

Playing outside and going for walks or jogs with your furry friend are no-brainers when you are trying to help your dog lose weight, but swimming can be a fun, out-of-the-box bonding activity as well. According to People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a veterinary charity, you can also engage your dog in fun challenges like having him climb stairs in order to get to pieces of food, or encouraging her to jump through little hoops to get to a treat. Adding these activities into an everyday regimen of walking and playing outside, as well as cutting down food intake, is sure to help in slimming down your canine friend.

Cats

Because they are such self-sufficient creatures, one of the easiest ways to get cats to exercise is by letting them play outside. Whether you have a pool deck, a small yard or even a designated neighborhood pet park, allowing your cat to run wild and chase after lizards or bugs will help him get fit. You can also make your living space into a fitness playground using various perches, platforms and scratching posts. You may also want to try a foraging ball, which requires felines to wrestle with the ball in order to reach the food in the middle.

Our furry friends have feelings, too. Make sure you are keeping them healthy and happy to ensure a longer life and a better bond.

Dogs should be taken on a walk or jog every day, if not multiple times per day, but there are some rules to follow depending on the size and age of the animal.
  • Jogging is not good for puppies or larger breeds as it hurts joints
  • Dogs with shorter legs should have shorter walks
  • Short-nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs need not work as hard as large-nosed dogs
  • Older dogs require less exercise than younger dogs