|My pet begs all the time.||First, check with your vet, but if you’re meeting your pet’s calorie and nutrient requirements, your pet may just think they need more than they do! Also, try substituting treat times for other social activities, like grooming or walking. Finally, you can divide up a portion of the diet to use as treats instead of meals, or divide the food into more frequent, smaller meals.|
|My pet cries all night.||Cats in particular like to eat at night, so set up feedings right before bedtime. Set up automatic timed feeders to go off during the night. Or provide hidden toys or treats that your pets can look for throughout the night. Also, make sure you don’t reward the behavior with attention or food. Either put a plan in motion to avoid it entirely, or ignore it, but never reward it.|
|My pet steals other pets' food.||Consider separate meal feeding options. Talk with your vet to see if there is one food you can feed to all pets in the house if possible. You can offer food puzzles to slow down and separate feedings, or try products that restrict food access based on a programmable collar.|
|My pet won't eat the new food.||Gradually introduce a new food over one week. Offer the new food side-by-side with the current diet, with gradual removal of the usual food. If that doesn't help, talk with your vet about diet alternatives with different textures and moisture content. You can also try using treats for up to 10 percent of the overall calories, as a palatability enhancer. Avoid offering alternatives if the pet skips a meal; however, do not allow cats to go longer than 24 hours without consuming any meals.|
The Conversation, CC-BY-ND
Source: Tufts Clinical Nutrition Service
At our obesity clinic at Tufts, physicians, nutritionists and veterinarians are working together to develop joint pet and pet owner weight-loss programs. We want to put together a healthy physical activity program, so pet owners and their dogs can both improve their health and strengthen their bond. We also created a pet owner education website with additional strategies for weight loss and pet nutrition.
Programs that strengthen and support the human-animal bond without adding calories will be critical to preserve the loving relationship that is the reason why we adopt our pets, but also keep us from literally loving them to death by overfeeding. Hopefully, we can start to chip away at the notion that “food is love” for our pets.