When attempting to conquer pet weight loss, we know pet parents can easily become overwhelmed with the wealth of information on the internet and elsewhere. From diet recommendations to exercise plans, knowing which advice to take seriously, and which to ignore, is difficult. While pet weight-management principles are simple—a healthy diet and regular exercise—don’t be fooled by false tips or tricks that could be dangerous for your pet. Here are five common pet weight-loss myths, debunked:

#1: Treats are forbidden for pets

A treat can be defined as “an especially unexpected source of joy, delight, or amusement,” but many of us give biscuits and other pet treats throughout the day for any old reason. Since overfeeding is the primary cause of our nation’s pet obesity problem, treats are often frowned on where pet weight loss is concerned, but they certainly aren’t forbidden. However, while we don’t discourage delighting your pet with treats simply for looking cute, owners of overweight pets do need to modify their treat protocol. Consider swapping out extra-large, high-calorie cookies for tiny training treats, or more healthy alternatives like carrot sticks, apple slices, or fresh green beans. If your pet simply won’t go for anything but those tried-and-true biscuits, break off smaller pieces, and give them sparingly. And, ensure you count the calories!

#2: One cup of pet kibble is the same across the board

During a visit to Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital, our veterinary team may ask, “How much are you feeding your pet?” A common response is, “One cup, twice a day.” Whether you feed your pet one cup or one-quarter cup, the amount doesn’t tell the whole story. An extraordinary number of different pet foods are available on the market, all containing varying amounts of calories in a serving—for example, one brand may have 475 kilocalories per cup, while another has 350. While this caloric difference may not seem like a big deal, our pets, especially cats and dogs, are sensitive to these small changes. Our veterinarian will help you determine your pet’s caloric needs, and use your pet food’s nutritional information to calculate the correct portion size. 

#3: Only calories matter, not the type of pet food

While weight-loss basics indicate that fewer calories in and more calories out will eventually lead to a slimmer frame, this doesn’t mean that what your pet eats isn’t important. A balanced diet that provides everything your pet needs to thrive is essential—not only for weight loss, but also for overall health. With the overwhelming amount of pet food choices, the task of choosing the right food for your overweight or obesity-prone pet can be daunting, but our veterinary team is here to help. Contact us to discuss your pet’s individual needs, so we can guide you in this important decision. 

#4: Exercise isn’t as important as your pet’s diet

Physical activity is an incredibly important aspect of any weight management plan. Exercise not only burns additional calories, but also keeps your pet’s muscles, joints, and heart in tip-top shape. While pets can lose weight on diet alone, this is not healthy, and lack of exercise may put your pet at risk for other diseases or injuries. If you and your pet are new to exercising, ensure you consult our Leawood Plaza veterinarian for recommendations on starting a new regimen. 

#5: Any type of activity is appropriate for your pet

Exercise is certainly a cornerstone of weight management and weight loss, but not every pet is meant for every activity. You may prefer running over cycling, or dancing over boxing, and pets have natural inclinations, too. For instance, while your English bulldog may not be Leawood’s next agility champion, they usually love a good game of fetch or tug-of-war. Your Newfoundland may dislike long jogs, but they’ll be delighted at the chance to swim. Learn what your pet’s breed is naturally good at, and pay attention to your pet’s likes when deciding on a physical activity. Remember to provide your pet plenty of fresh water when exercising, and never force them into physical activity, especially in hot weather. 

Weight management is a hot topic in the pet world—one that often leaves pet owners feeling confused and discouraged. AAHA-accredited Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital is here to help. Our talented veterinary team can help get your pet back to their ideal weight. Contact us to set up a consultation.