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Putting Your Pet On A Diet

    I'll never forget the time when my neighbor, a fellow I liked and respected for his work with horses, bluntly told me one day when we were visiting him and his wife, that my dog was fat! I was crushed but, truth be told, I had noticed that she was getting a little pudgy around her ribs. So, I resolved to resolve the problem and put her on a diet. Until then, I had always kept her food bowl full of tasty kibble so she could help herself whenever she wanted, but apparently, she had been doing that more often . . . .
    I'll be honest - at first, it was hard. For the entire time she'd lived with me, she'd never had her food restricted and when she looked at me with those big, gorgeous brown eyes, I felt like a heel. But I knew that it would make a huge positive difference in her health, so I stuck to it and within a couple of months, her energy level was higher and she looked svelte and trim again. Once I could feel her ribs consistently, I started giving her one or two treats during the day, and I made sure that we stuck to our daily exercise regime as well.
    Cats, however, are another story! Everything I've read says to make sure they always have dry food available throughout the day. One of my cats came to me as a skinny little thing and when she realized that she could have food all the time, she quickly ballooned into a rotund young adult.
    To help keep her weight down, I played with her a lot. I made a toy that she loved to chase (a wooden stick with a string on the end that had a feather attached to it) and each day, I would encourage her hunting instincts by bobbing the feather in front of her till her tail started twitching. Then she was in hot pursuit! I would do this until she was obviously tired.
    Another option for an overweight cat (or dog) is to choose a food that is low in calories and fat. This works well for indoor or older cats who don't get as much exercise.
    The bottom line is that you, the human, the animal guardian, are responsible for the care and feeding of your pet and you are not doing them any favors health-wise by giving them too much food. As tempting as it might be to give your cute dog or cat another treat, consider playing and walking and lots of TLC instead.

    Deborah Dobson, FizzNiche Staff Writer