Pet Obesity Awareness Month

Pet Obesity Awareness Month

As October is Pet Obesity Awareness Month, I thought this would be a good opportunity to follow up on the challenges I’ve faced as a pet parent with a once obese dog.

I am by no means an expert in the field of pet obesity. But what I am is, a pet parent that personally experienced the struggles and ups and downs (literally) of having a pet that was once obese.

I can relate to the frustrations of having a pet that’s overweight. I know what it’s like living with a dog that CONSTANTLY begs for food, even if they ate one hour ago. I understand the emotions felt when told by the vet your dog is overweight and needs to lose weight. When your vet suggests that a change in food could help your pet feel better and lose weight – a food that can only be purchased at your vet’s office – I know what’s going through your mind.

Thinking you can manage your dog’s weight all by yourself, yup, been there too.

More Than A Number On A Scale

It’s About A Pet’s Overall Health & Longevity

Pet obesity is a growing epidemic and the consequences are resulting in pets dealing with numerous health issues and believe it or not, their longevity. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, in 2018, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese.

A pet’s weight is more than a number on a scale. It’s about overall health, well being, and longevity.

Pet Obesity Awareness Month

Graphic courtesy of Mars Petcare

Pet Weight Management Is For Life

My dog may have lost her excess weight years ago, but if I’ve learned one thing, it’s once a pet loses weight and has reached their goal, it doesn’t end there. Keeping my dog fit and at an appropriate weight is a life long journey!

When my dog finally reached her goal weight, as excited as I was, I was also terrified. Terrified? Really? Why? Because now I had to learn how to maintain my dog’s new healthy weight.

Emotions Don’t Always Equal Logic

Sometimes the most logical solution does not come to mind when emotions of our pet’s health is involved. So how was I going to maintain my dog’s new healthy weight and still keep her satisfied?

Simple enough really. Continue on the same food that satisfied and addressed her dietary needs, just adjust the portions to maintain her weight.

Did this work?

Let’s just say, my dog turned eleven this year and to this day she has maintained her healthy weight.

Things I’ve Learned Over The Years About Pet Obesity….

Don’t Let Your Emotions Get In The Way!

Being told by the vet your pet is overweight can raise many emotions. In defence of our veterinarians, they are telling us this for the benefit of our pet’s overall health and wellbeing. It is not a judgement on us a pet parents. Our vets want the exact same thing we want – a healthy, happy pet.

Prescription Pet Food

Originally when it was suggested my dog would benefit from a prescription diet, a food only sold at vet offices, I was hesitant. First off, I couldn’t fathom how it was possible that a change in my dog’s food could possibly make a difference? Was this a sales tactic? Would switching my dog to a prescription diet cost more?

It’s called prescription diet for a reason. Even though I didn’t understand it at the time, the food prescribed by my dog’s vet is specifically formulated to address the issues my dog was having, her weight gain and the need to for her to feel satisfied (stop begging). All while continuing to give her the tailored nutrition she required.

Was it a sales tactic? The only one that benefited from purchasing a prescription diet from our vet’s office was/is my pet.

Did it cost more to feed a vet prescribed prescription diet? Already feeding my dog a premium pet food, cup for cup, I saw no increase in cost between a premium pet food sold at a pet store, and a prescription diet sold at my vet’s office.

Pet Obesity Awareness Month

Graphic courtesy of Mars Petcare

Measure EVERY Meal

There was a time if I was asked “how much do you feed your dog?” you would probably have heard crickets. I could give you a guesstimate, but EXACTLY how much, down to the cup or gram, never. 

To this day, each and every meal my dogs eat is measured out. I know precisely how much each of my dogs are fed and doing this takes no extra time or effort.

So what does it matter if my dog gets a few extra kibble a day? Let’s put it this way. Feeding an extra 10 kibble a day would result in my dog being fed a full extra meal a week. It adds up. Fast.

Regular Weigh-ins

I thoroughly encourage regular weigh-ins for your pet. Having done this with my dog, and still do, helped me keep on top of things and made me aware of any adjustments needed in the amount being fed. I also found keeping a record of your pet’s weigh-ins helpful as it gives you a visual of their progress, showing just how far and how well they (and you) have done.

Treats & Rewards 

Yes/No/What Kind?

We all do it, it’s hard not to. We like to show our dogs we love them and can’t resist those puppy dog eyes. But here’s what I’ve learned about rewarding our dogs. Rewards come in many forms and doesn’t always have to be food related.  In your dog’s eyes, having extra playtime, a new toy, or going for a walk can be just as rewarding.

Pet Obesity Awareness Month

Walks and adventures can be just as rewarding and fun for your dog

That’s not saying I never reward my dog with food treats. It can still be done. Whether I’m training my dogs or rewarding them for posing for the camera, I offer them the same kibble they eat for their meals.

But here’s the trick! I reduce the amount they are fed at mealtime based on the amount of “kibble treats” they received.

Don’t Get Discouraged!

Depending on the amount of weight your pet needs to lose it can take time. Don’t get discouraged! Need help? Ask your vet for advice when things aren’t going as planned. The weight will come off and your pet WILL FEEL MUCH BETTER! 

Share Your Story

Do you have a pet that needs to lose weight?

Have you been trying to get your pet to reduce?

Has your pet lost weight?

We want to hear your stories!

Share with us your pet weight stories, the successes, the struggles  and everything in between!

Because when you have support along the way, it’s so much easier.


Author: Kelly Harding

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