One of the difficulties with the issue of overweight pets is that most pet owners fail to see it. Obesity among dogs and cats is the “new normal” for many pet-owning families, unfortunately. So it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what really is the normal weight range for cats and dogs, and how to reach and maintain that for your fur babies. Here is some information that may help.
The average cat should weigh about 10 pounds, depending on frame, gender and breed; it’s normal for Maine Coons to weigh up to 25 pounds, and for Persians to weigh between 7 and 12 pounds.
For dogs, weight varies enormously according to breed and gender. To give a range, Labrador Retrievers should weigh between 65 and 80 pounds (for smaller labs, 80 pounds would be overweight), Beagles from 18 to 30 pounds, and Miniature Poodles from 11 to 17 pounds. It’s important to talk to your vet to find out the healthiest weight for your particular animal.
For humans, being a pound or two overweight is no big deal; even five pounds of excess weight doesn’t worry most people. This is where pet owners may make mistakes – they think their cat or dog is “only” 2 or 3 pounds over the ideal, so it’s no big problem, right? Unfortunately, it is. For example, a cat that is 3 pounds overweight is roughly the equivalent of a human being 40 pounds overweight!
If you suspect that your cat or dog is overweight, check with your veterinarian to see if there really is a weight problem.
Here are some tips on how to keep your cat or dog at an ideal weight.
Nothing sheds pet pounds like regular exercise. Dogs enjoy vigorous walks with their owners, as well as hikes and other active outings. A 20-minute game of fetch is a good workout for most dogs, too. Cats enjoy playing with string or fun cat toys, and if possible, letting your cats go outside to “play” each day may help as well. Kitty “gyms” are a worthwhile investment – keep your cat interested by periodically sprinkling it with catnip.
Rewarding your animal with treats makes sense, but choose only very tiny pieces of treats for training and rewards. If you give a lot of treats during training, make sure you cut back on your animal’s regular food amount.
Good-quality food is important, sources say. The “empty calories” in some cheaper pet foods, as well as the fillers and less-than-nutritional ingredients, can contribute to or cause a weight problem.
Experts do not recommend “crash diets” for your pets. This can cause disease (such as fatty liver in cats) and other problems for the animal. Like for humans, a slow and steady weight loss is considered healthiest.