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Tips for Dieting Pets

Exercise tips for Pet Slimmers

Exercise is a vital component of any weight loss programme and the same applies to pets. Many of us believe that if we have sufficient garden space or a multiple pet household, that our animals will keep active on their own or entertain one another. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Your veterinary healthcare team may help set up exercise programme for your pet, but there are some general points to remember about exercise.

  • Ask your vet or an animal physiotherapist for advice. Getting an exercise programme tailored for your pet’s individual needs is always best.
  • Don’t do too much too quickly. Let your pet warm up gentle and only increase exercise gradually as fitness improves.
  • Make use of daily opportunities to give your pet exercise and stimulation. It can be as simple as encouraging your pet to go up and down the stairs with you or asking him to follow you around the garden when you are watering.
  • Make sure it’s fun. Try exercising your pet with family members and other pets.
  • If you’re unable to exercise your pet yourself, why not consider a dog walker.
  • Exercising and playing games with your pet are both great ways to strengthen your bond, keep them fit and healthy and to reward them.

Exercises for your Dog

Walking
  • Regular walk - take your dog to the park or along the street.
  • Resistance walk - if possible, make your pet walk on different surfaces such as sand, shallow water of fallen leaves. Consider using obstacles such as benches, trees, ditches or fallen tree trunks as a natural obstacle course to jump over, crawl under or balance on.
Fun and Games
  • Fetch - always a firm favourite! Throwing a ball or toy is a great exercise for your dog – and not too strenuous for you. For a more challenging game of fetch, use steep banks (outdoors) or stairs (indoors) for increased resistance.
  • Resistance walk - if possible, make your pet walk on different surfaces such as sand, shallow water of fallen leaves. Consider using obstacles such as benches, trees, ditches or fallen tree trunks as a natural obstacle course to jump over, crawl under or balance on.
  • Hide and Seek - hide a toy or some kibbles and let your dog find it.
  • Jogging and Cycling - take your dog along with you.
  • Swimming or Hydrotherapy - ideal for dogs with arthritis or back problems. Ask your vet for advice about hydrotherapy.
  • Obstacle Courses- indoors or outdoors, set up low hurdles (use a broom stick across two objects), tunnels (these are available from pet shops, or use cardboard boxes) and a slalom course (set objects like buckets one meter apart) to exercise your dog.
  • Massage and stretching - warms up muscles, releases tension and stimulates blood circulation. And your dog will love it!

Exercises for your Cat

Cats may not be getting sufficient exercise, particularly those with an indoor lifestyle. Here are some ideas to boost the activity level of your cat.

Walking
  • Walking on a harness – This isn’t for everyone and it may require some practice but cat harnesses are available at most vet shops so that you can walk your cat safely. However think about this at home and make your cat follow, jump, chase whenever you can.
Fun and Games
  • Toys – there are loads of commercially available toys that encourage active play. Even better, get the kids together to make a “cat toy”. Ping pong balls or even a scrunched piece of paper work a treat.
  • Boxing – cats just love climbing in an out of an empty box or paper bag.
  • Massage and stretching – warms up muscles, releases tension and stimulated blood circulation. Frequent grooming may also help.
  • Hunting – feed your cat in different places each day to make him hunt for it. Make him work harder by using obstacles or feeding from tall furniture or shelves.

Feeding Tips for Pets on Diet

If you’re changing your pet’s food to Hill’s Prescription Diet recommended for

weight loss we recommend the following:

  • Introduce the new food gradually. Over a 7 day period, mix your pet’s previous food with increasing proportions of the new food, until only the new food is being fed. Any sudden or drastic change in food can result in refusal to eat and tummy upsets.
  • Ensure that you stick to the recommended daily allowance of food as directed by your vet. It helps to weigh and divide the daily allowance into several meals for the most efficient weight loss, at the beginning of the day, to avoid accidental overfeeding. Just a few extra kibbles can make a difference.
  • If you have other pets that are not on the Slimmer Programme it is best to feed them separately. Cats can be particularly difficult especially if they’re used to free feeding but we have two ideas to share: 
    • Make an entrance in a cardboard box which you then place over the food. In that way only the thinner cat was able to fit through!
    • Place your other cat’s food up on a higher level that would take too much effort on the Slimmer’s part to get to.

Snacks & Begging

We know that you may want to reward your pet slimmer with a tasty treat but there are some things you need to keep in mind:

  • Avoid feeding table scraps - they are inappropriate for because they are nutritionally unbalanced, have high salt and high fat levels and promote begging and fussy eating habits.
  • Don’t leave any food lying around and watch out for sneaky tactics! A previous participant caught her dog stealing avocados straight off the tree. Another had to ‘child-proof’ her fridge and freezer when she discovered her Australian Cattle dog had learnt how to open them.
  • Avoid giving carbohydrate snacks to a cat being fed Hill’s Prescription Diet m/d.
  • Don’t forget Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Stews that you can use occasionally to reward a milestone.
  • Opt for  healthy, low-calorie snacks  if you would like to treat your pet to something extra. A limited amount of healthy snacks like these shown below will not compromise weight loss but use them occasionally.
  • Low Calorie Snacks
    • ¼ cup of carrot
    • ¼ cup of green beans
    • ¼ apple
    • ¼ rice cake
    • ½ fat free wheat cracker
    • ½ medium cucumber
    • 1 stalk celery

 

Rewarding your pet

We all like to reward our pets, but all too often we think of food as the first option. There’s no reason why a pet on a weight loss programme can’t receive rewards but why not try some alternatives to food that your pet is sure to appreciate just as much.

• A brush or massage: A relaxing way for you to bond with your pet that warms up muscles, releases tension and stimulates blood circulation.
• Fun, games or exercise: Play a game of fetch, or hide a toy in a sand pit and encourage some digging, take them out for a short walk, or buy a chew toy or puzzle toy.

The idea is to provide some mental and physical stimulation and pile on the praise, attention and cuddles. If you think about it they’re almost sure to love that more than the quick unhealthy titbit that hardly touches their mouth before being gulped down.

Record your progress. Take “before” photographs

Remember to take a number of good “before” pictures to remind you of how your pet looked before starting on the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme. So often the transformation in participants is simply remarkable and you’ll what to record your efforts.

If you plan on entering the competition submitting a good set of before and after photographs is critical. Entrants into the Hill’s Pet Slimmer competition recording good weight loss on paper but with poor quality photographic evidence of this stand little chance of making the finals.

Tips for taking good photos

  • Try to take photos outdoors, using natural light, avoiding shadows.
  • If possible avoid using a flash as this can cause “red-eye”.
  • Get quite close to your pet, but not so close that you cut off their legs.
  • Choose a background that has a contrasting color to your pet. Plain, uncluttered backgrounds without people are best.
  • Photograph pets with minimal restraint. Try to photograph them when they are relaxed, sleeping, eating, playing or in the garden.
  • Take photos from as many angles as possible - from the side, front, overhead and lying down. This enables us to choose the ones that show the pet’s weight loss best.
  • It’s always a good idea to ensure your after photo is taken from the same angle/s as the before for a good comparison.
  • And don’t forget to take your photos in high resolution.
  • And then don’t misplace them! In fact we recommend that as soon as you’ve registered that you login and upload them to the system. If you have any trouble email them to us on petslimmer@hillspet.com

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