5 Sneaky Ways to Keep Dogs and Cats Slim

Cat Playing With Toy
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When it comes to keeping pets healthy, daily exercise can work wonders. If your cat won't walk on a leash, play with a feather toy or laser pointer.

According to the latest veterinary surveys, more than half of our nation’s dogs and cats are overweight. This means almost 90 million pets are at a higher risk for developing arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer.

So how can you slim down your super­sized pet? The answer may be easier than you think. These five tips can help you trim excess pounds off your pet and keep her healthier.

Calculate Calories

If you don’t know how many calories your pet needs each day, you don’t know how much food to offer. And don’t think you can trust the bag — feeding guidelines are formulated for active, adult, unspayed or unneutered dogs and cats. This means that if you your pet is an older spayed or neutered indoor lap lounger, you are likely overfeeding if you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions. Instead, ask your veterinarian to calculate the number of calories your pet needs each day. Or use this formula: Divide your pet’s weight in pounds by 2.2. Multiply that figure by 30. Then add 70. This number will give you a good idea of how many calories a typical inactive, indoor, spayed or neutered pet needs. Of course, each pet’s metabolism is different, so consult your veterinarian before starting your pet on a diet.

Measure Meals

Your greatest tool in the fight against a pet’s excess weight might be your measuring cup. Too many pet owners simply fill the bowl or guesstimate how much they’re feeding. Studies have shown that feeding as few as 10 extra kibbles of food per day can add up to a pound of weight gain in a year for indoor cats and small dogs. Keep in mind that for the average 10-pound cat or small dog, this is a 10 percent weight gain. After you calculate how many calories your pet needs, determine how much food you should feed at each meal — and measure it.

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