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      Your Pet’s Weight Matters

      Just like with humans, the primary cause of pet obesity is too much food and too little exercise. Obesity presents cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and digestive dangers to your pet’s health while also increasing the risk for diabetes, arthritis, fatigue and heat intolerance. In all overweight dogs and cats, the body structure ages prematurely and can reduce the lifespan of your pet.

      Checking Your Pet for Weight Gain

      By monitoring changes in your pet’s body, you can identify additional pounds early. Here are a few areas to check:

      * Run your hand over your pet’s hips. You should feel the bumps of two pelvic bones without applying pressure.
      * Place your thumbs on your pet’s back and run them along the backbone with your fingers over the ribs. You should be able to feel the bumps of the ribs without applying any pressure. If you can see the ribs or they are protruding, your pet is too thin.
      * Push your thumb and index finger into the flesh at the side of the neck above the shoulder and pinch together. Your fingers should not be more than a half inch apart.
      * When you look at your pet from the side, the abdomen should not be hanging down
      * When looking at your pet from above, you should be able to see a waist behind the ribs

      Making Changes to Reduce Obesity Risk

      The first step is to consult your veterinarian. He or she will be able to provide you with a detailed feeding and exercise plan if necessary. Ask about regular follow-ups to ensure the plan is working. Here are other things to help reduce weight gain:

      * Don’t misinterpret an empty bowl as an empty stomach. Even if your dog or cat “cleans their plate”, make sure you are controlling portions appropriately.
      * Make time for extended exercise. Playtime alone or outside is not enough. Schedule a play session or a long walk to help keep your pet’s muscles toned.
      * Pay attention to the fat and calorie content in the food you buy. Fats are an energy source, but excess fat adds pound quickly. Similarly, look for low calorie diets that offer the same quality ingredients found in higher calorie foods.
      * Don’t let your pets snack on your table scraps.

      To promote your own health along with the health of your pets, explore ways that you and your dog or cat can exercise together. Some canine breeds can be great company for a long walk or jog. Keep in mind, cats prefer frequent periods of intense activity rather than longer exercise sessions.

      Contributed by Pet First Health Care

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