So, despite your best efforts and our tips , you’ve missed out on some walkies or treated your four-legged friend a bit too much - what now? What is the best and safest way to help your cat or pup lose a couple of pounds?

Obesity is a real issue for pets; it can cause a whole bunch of nasty health conditions that really ruin the quality of their lives - and in worst case scenarios, can be fatal. It’s important to nip this in the bud, so we have compiled a handy guide to getting your pet back in shape.

Food

fat dog running in the field

If you’re new to the Barking Heads world - firstly, welcome! And secondly, you’ve probably stumbled on this blog because you’re concerned about an extra bit of weight that your beloved pet has put on.

Unfortunately, this could be down to one simple thing: their diet. Many owners don’t realise just how unhealthy a lot of pet food is.

Sadly, a huge amount of what we feed our dogs and cats is the equivalent of a human living off a diet consisting only of cheeseburgers and lager - it’s junk food. A lot of companies fill their kibble with GM products, artificial flavourings, and even animal derivatives. Some even include sugar disguised as "beet pulp"!

So, you may be doing everything right for your pet - adequate portion sizes and regular walks - only to have it all cancelled out by an unhealthy product that will build weight, decrease energy and cause further health problems.

 

Barking Heads

We don’t mean to brag (well, only a tiny bit) but our food is healthy and complete, made with natural ingredients. Barking Heads was partially founded because of the lack of premium, healthy food available that didn’t use junk substitutes.

Take another look at the ingredients in your current pet food, and maybe consider giving our range a try. Our Fat Dog Slim or Fat Cat Slim products are specifically designed to help out pets who need to lose a little bit of weight and will give you a head start.

See, Hamish approves:

scruffy dog with bag of barking heads fat dog slim

 

Portion Sizes

ginger cat eating a banana

You’ve checked your ingredients, bought your Barking Heads - and your pet is still packing on the pounds. What’s next?

It may be an issue of portion sizes. Dogs and cats require quite a strict attitude to their diet; it only takes a small amount of going over or under to trigger unnecessary weight gain. A common area where people go wrong is that they follow guidelines based on the breed of their pet - to determine the right amount of feed, you really need to be following a weight recommendation.

Each of our products comes with a daily feeding guide which you can use to base the amount of food. However, remember that each animal is different. Check with your vet to determine your pet’s weight, what their healthy weight should be, and if they have any feeding recommendations.

 

Winter Weight Gain

puppy running in the snow

Also, don’t fall prey to winter myths: you don’t need to increase portion sizes in winter, and doing so won’t keep your pets warm in colder weather.

In actuality, you may need to feed them less during winter; if you you’re not walking them as much, they will be burning less energy. Feeding them the same amount as you did in the summer when you went on walks three times a day will lead to winter weight gain.

 

(Literal) Puppy Dog Eyes

You’re thinking, “but I’ve been so good about treats! How could my pup/kitty possibly have gained all this weight?” But then you remember the last treat, and the one before that, and the one before that - and they were all this morning.

Treats are only treats if they’re sporadic - not constant. They’re a great way to reward good behaviour, but you can show your pet that you love them without spoiling them; show them affection, praise them or give them a cuddle to do that, rather than always whipping out the doggie biscuits.

Where treats are given, ensure that these are healthy ones, full of good stuff - not something cheaply made and bulked out with artificial products.

 

Sharing Food

cat trying to get food off the table

Now that you’re thinking about it, have you noticed that you’ve been giving out too many bits off your own dinner plate?

We’re all guilty of giving into those begging eyes sometimes. But if you feed them every time your pup sidles up to your chair leg hoping for a bit of your dinner, you’re only going to be adding to their calorie intake. When this is put on top of treats and their regular meal times, you can see how it builds up, and suddenly your pet is eating a lot more than their recommended amount.

This can be especially easily done over the festive period, when our plates are stuffed full - but stay strong guys. Remember, that winter weight gain will cause only a myriad of problems later.

 

Exercise

Dalmatian dog skateboarding with owner

Exercise for dogs - and cats - isn’t quite the same as it is for humans. Dogs especially are incredibly active creatures; a lot of exercise needs to be a standard part of their routine and not the equivalent of a human’s new year’s resolution to hit the gym more.

A lack of exercise could be the definite culprit behind weight gain. If you’ve been slacking on the walks, you’ll certainly notice this, alongside a general deterioration in your dog’s health. Pets who don’t get enough exercise become lethargic; exercise is a huge part of both their physical and psychological wellbeing as it provides exploration and stimulation.

Get yourself back into gear and start exercising your pet regularly. If you’re unsure just how much walking your dog needs, check with the vet as this could vary based on weight and breed.

Remember, a healthy pet is a happy pet - so try your best to stick to a nutritious diet and active routine for your four-legged friend. Let us know if you’ve got any of your own tips by tweeting us at @BarkingHeads, and give us a follow on Facebook to join in with our regular pet chats!