Help Your Overweight Pet Slim Down

Shrink the portions. No more handfuls or scoops — measure your pet’s food accurately with a measuring cup. Feed smaller meals more often to help prevent hunger pangs; offer the same total amount of food, but break it up into smaller meals throughout the day. You can also add a low-cal filler to bulk up the volume — green beans are often suggested by veterinarians, and they work to fill your pet up without piling on the pounds.

Consider a prescription. Talk to your veterinarian about Slentrol, the first FDA-approved medication for weight control in dogs. It works by keeping some fat from being absorbed in the small intestine, which helps the dog feel more full on less food. It may be just what your pet needs.

Make Mealtime Fun

Let your pet play with his food. You can find all kinds of food puzzles for your pet to enjoy, or you can just keep it simple. With our dogs, we scatter kibble in the grass and let them hunt for it. They love that game. For our cats, we hide little amounts in small bowls high and low — they have to use their noses and their brains to find them. No matter what your approach, make your pet work for his meals — he will burn more calories and have less time for begging. And he’ll also have more fun, which is a nice bonus.

Treat ’em right, on a smaller scale. Pets can count, but they can’t measure. Take your pet’s treats and break them into tiny pieces; offer one or two of these smaller treats as a reward for good behavior, instead of one or two full-sized treats. Remember: It's all about portion control — don’t undermine the change by feeding your dog or cat big handfuls of tiny bits (yes, people do that). Substitute one small piece for one full-size treat. Your pet will never know the difference.

Get Those Paws on the Move

No matter which strategies you use for adjusting your pet's diet, remember that exercise is also key to weight loss. Easy walks and swimming can be good options for overweight pets who aren’t as mobile as they could be. Get younger, mobile dogs moving every day with games like fetch. Cats can get a good workout with interactive toys.

If you commit to feeding your pet less and exercising him more, he will soon be thinner, healthier — and much, much happier.

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