6 Tips to Keep Your Dog or Cat from Tipping the Scale

Dog With Paws In Bowls
Think twice about handing Fido or Fluffy that table scrap. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55% of dogs and 53% of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. In real numbers, that equates to 93 million pets nationwide. Here are some simple tips for controlling your pet's weight from Lucy Postins of Honest Kitchen.

It's In The Ribs

Check to see if your pet is at an ideal body weight. The ribs should easily be felt and your dog or cat should have a defined waist. Be sure not to compare your pup to his pack of friends at the dog park as a staggering number of pets in the US are overweight or obese.

Re-think Your Pets' Meals

Just like people, pets thrive on minimally processed whole foods. Look at changing their diet to raw, homemade, dehydrated or freeze-dried foods as a healthy alternative to over-processed kibbles and canned diets. Try to eliminate by-products and unnecessary ingredients from reaching your pets' bowls such as corn, wheat, soy, added sugar and salt, as well as artificial colorings, flavors and preservatives. The processed simple carbohydrates in kibble can pack on the pounds for your pooch, just as they do in people.

Treat Well

As much as your pup may love her cookies and biscuits, the calories can add up quickly, causing weight gain. Try to find treats low in calories, like Honest Kitchen Pecks™ which only contain .6 calories, or opt for whole food treats like pure meat jerky (look for one with minimal salt, sugar and flavorings), carrots or snap peas.

Be Aware Of Moisture In Food Too

Be sure your pet has adequate moisture in his food. Moisture intake should come not only come the water bowl, but also from the diet. Diets high in moisture help your pet digest food better and keep the whole body well-hydrated too. Chronic low-level dehydration that results from a dry-food only diet can lead to water retention, which in turn makes a pet seem oven more overweight. Kibble diets are unnaturally low in moisture (about 10%), which is akin to us eating a bowl of cereal without the milk!

Give TLC

Senior dogs and cats need extra loving care. As our beloved companions age, it's harder for them to get around like they used to and they burn less calories, causing weight gain. If you notice that their waist is filling out, try reducing the amount fed per day and consider a non-weight bearing exercise like swimming. Extra pounds might place an unnecessary burden on their hips and joints.

Use these tips in addition to exercise to help maintain the mental and physical well being of your pet. And remember, a healthy pet is more likely to keep those vet bills at bay!

*Katie Dillon writes La Jolla Mom, an award winning lifestyle site about food, travel, parenting, homekeeping, and local happenings. She lives in La Jolla with her husband and preschool aged daughter, and is a proud member of the Yahoo! Mother Board.