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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

Proper Weight for a Healthy Pet

Jan 03, 2018 11:14PM
by Donna Troyer

Proper weight is an important priority in keeping our pets healthy and cancer-free. It’s common for dog owners to be unaware whether their pets fall into the right weight category. So how do we know if Fido is considered overweight? One way to stay aware is to note their weight at every exam in order to spot changes or trends. When your dog is at his proper weight, you should easily feel his ribs, visibly see a waist when observing from above, and not see fat sagging in the belly. Even in muscular dogs, you should still feel the ribs. Be Mindful with Treats Much of the valued time we spend with our pets involve meals and treats. Most of our dogs have trained us that treats are deserved. For example, we often give our dogs treats when we leave home, when we come home, when we’re cooking, when the dog is well-behaved, and just because they are well-loved—all of these are prime opportunities for a treat. This important social time is often a big part of our relationship with our pets—no wonder we have a hard time cutting back on treats! Keep those special cues—that quality time together is valuable. However, make the treat smaller or feed a vegetable, like a carrot or a green bean. If multiple household members feed treats, put the daily allotment into a bowl so everyone knows how many are left. Break them into smaller pieces if it’s 10 a.m. and the treats are almost gone. Reduce Meal Calories Reduce the meal calories by no more than 25 percent at a time. Choose a lower calorie food with lots of fiber to help fill your dog up. Other additions include pumpkin, green beans or a few spoonfuls of homemade vegetable stew. The stew can be a mix of vegetables—the more colors the better—with some berries thrown in as well. Blenderize the mix and then freeze it in small portions (ice cube trays work great) so a batch can last you a month. Avoid adding potatoes, rice, corn and peas; they are all starches and add unnecessary calories. Increase Exercise Increasing activity not only burns calories but adds enrichment for your dog. As it is said for humans, weight loss is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise. It is likely similar for pets. Exercise needs to be increased gradually and done regularly. However, a few factors like owner lifestyle, a disability and an aging dog do not always allow for increased exercise. In cases like this, getting them as much activity as possible while doing no harm will still benefit them. Once you’ve incorporated these principles into your and Fido’s lifestyle, be sure to weigh him regularly to see the progress being made. By following the above suggestions, we can help keep our pet’s weight in an ideal range and help them live happier and longer lives. For more information on pet obesity visit

Donna Troyer, DVM, practices at Acupuncture for Pets clinic located at 1428 W. Mansfield Ave, Spokane. For more information, call 509-327-2062.

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