WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — We all know the dangers that come with obesity in humans. But pets are also subject to joint pain, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer as a result of being overweight. Almost 60 percent of both cats and dogs are considered either overweight or obese. To help your pet get back on a healthy track, follow these tips from Friendship Hospital for Animals

Book regular visits with the veterinarian. Your cat or dog should have an annual check-up with the vet where all vital stats are monitored. If the weight increase is creeping up before it's time for that next appointment, don't hesitate to book another. Be honest with the doctor. Let them know your pet's eating habits and bring in the cat or dog food so the ingredients can be evaluated.

Make sure your family is on the same page. All members of your household should be equally committed to helping your pet lose weight. Make sure no one is sneaking table scraps to Fido. It may be hard to ignore that begging at first, but it will get easier as you see progress being made. Have everyone take turns going for walks so your pet gets additional love.

Special programs may be necessary. Cutting back on table scraps and going for more walks is great for a long-term plan, but some pets may need a more rigorous regimen to get healthier. Friendship Hospital for Animals offers a Doggy Boot Camp that includes water treadmill sessions, nutritional consults, weekly weigh-ins, and a Facebook group to bond with other concerned dog owners. 

Monitor progress. Whether your pet is enrolled in a program or you're helping them on your own, weekly weigh-ins are key. Keep a journal of the food you're giving them so you know what's stalling progress. Reward good behavior like going for more walks with a fun new toy. Even a modest reduction in weight can expand your pet's life expectancy by 2 years. Celebrate those victories and encourage your pet to keep up the good work. 

This article is sponsored by Friendship Hospital for Animals.

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