March 3rd, 2015
by Rachel Hughes, RedRover Relief Case Manager
Many people make resolutions to exercise, lose weight, eat healthy and stay active. We know these things are good for us and can lead to a longer, healthier life. But some people don’t consider making the same resolutions for their pet! It is just as important for our pets to eat healthy, exercise and maintain a healthy weight. The complications that can occur in an overweight pet are similar to those that occur in a person, such as heart disease, joint problems, and even diabetes.
These problems may not only shorten your pet’s lifespan, but can also cost thousands of dollars in veterinary bills. For example, diabetes medications can cost upwards of $40-100 per month and treatment for heart disease can be in the thousands.
Luckily, there are a couple simple ways to help prevent these issues:
A complete, balanced diet is the foundation of your pet’s overall health. While high-quality pet foods are normally more expensive than lower-quality brands, they can be worth the extra money. A bag of high-quality dry dog food can run from $40-60 for a 35 pound bag, with high-quality cat food having similar price points. “Higher-quality pet foods offer a higher nutritional content per serving,” says RedRover Relief case manager Laurel Meleski. “Pet owners would have to feed more servings of low-quality foods to meet daily nutritional requirements, and those added servings can lead to pet weight gain. That money can potentially be saved by feeding high-quality foods since less food is required.”
Finding the right pet food can be daunting, but the main aspect to evaluate is the list of ingredients. For a list of ingredients to look for, and other tips on picking the right pet food, visit RedRover.org/food
If your pet has specific health needs, you may want to ask your veterinarian if she recommends a particular food. Keep in mind that puppies and senior pets have different dietary needs and may need a different diet than other pets in the home. While it is tempting to feed your pet table scraps, try to limit feeding human food as much as possible. This will prevent over-feeding and weight gain, and help your pet live a longer and healthier life!
Exercising with your pet is a great way to keep him at a healthy weight. Daily walks, runs or trips to the dog park can help prevent heart disease as well as obesity. It is important to keep your pet on a leash at all times while outside of your home to prevent any accidents from happening, such as getting hit by a car (which case managers have reported seeing veterinary bills for over $3,000!). While exercising with your cat can be more difficult, one idea is to find a toy or light they like to chase, which will give them the activity they need.
It is up to us to keep our pets as healthy as they can be. A balanced diet along with daily activity will not only keep your pet healthier but also happier and can have a positive effect on their behavior!
Learn more about pet obesity and keeping your pets healthy at PetObesityPrevention.Org