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Natural Awakenings Magazine Daytona | Volusia | Flagler

Holidays and Pet Obesity

Oct 30, 2019 10:37PM ● By Lisa Mason

The fast-approaching holiday season is a great time for family feasts, new savory dishes and dessert indulgences. We gain a few pounds and set new goals for the start of the year to lose the weight we have just put on. Unfortunately, our pets are unable to make resolutions to get the weight off, and as we share our holiday deliciousness with our pets, those extra few pounds result in a pet that is obese and sedentary. 

Obesity may not be obvious at first, as we see our pets each day and don’t notice the change. This is a great time of year to pay extra attention to pets to see if they are suffering from obesity. 

Obesity can cause worsening joint pain due to increased inflammation as well as more weight on the joints. A dog or cat may have difficulty getting on the bed or couch, showing more signs of aches and pains. Without a scale, we can compare their rib cages to the backs of our hands—their ribs should be as easy to palpate as the bones of our hands. 

The first step in taking care of an obese pet is a visit with the veterinarian, who can determine if the pet is healthy enough for a diet and exercise plan. Any weight-reducing routine should be followed for at least six weeks.

A common, easy way to add exercise to a dog’s routine is adding 15-minute leash walks twice a day. This is good for us as well as our pets. For cats, a laser pointer or a fun, feathered toy encourages increasing activity. 

Exchange treats for raw vegetables, such as carrots, apples, blueberries, zucchini and cucumbers (no grapes). Reducing food by a small portion and adding canned, unsweetened pumpkin adds bulk and fiber and can help with weight loss. 

How often have we made “get healthy” resolutions, only to have them fall by the wayside? Diet and exercise are more successful when they are shared with friends, and what better friends than our animal companions? 

Dr. Lisa Mason, DVM, CCRT, CVA, is owner of Florida Veterinary Rehabilitation, in DeLand. For more information, call 386-337-7106 or visit 

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