Before deciding your pet needs to diet, there’s an easy way to find out if your animal really is overweight.
The scales don’t tell the whole story because every animal is different. Even in the same breed.
Look closely at the animal’s body, are you able to see their last 3 ribs easily? If there’s a lot of padding over those ribs, the animal has too much weight. For a pet with very thick fur, touch their body and try to feel their last 3 ribs.
Another way to check is by looking at the animal’s waist. Does it go in a straight line from the hind flex to the ribs with no indentation at the waist? That is a sign they’re carrying too much weight.
One thing I discovered from working with obese pets is that they only ate dry food. I’m not saying every animal gets obese when eating dry food. Rather, I suggest offering your pets various sources of food. The people who did this with their pets found that their animal’s weight went down.

What dog food is best?

Just look at it from your animal’s perspective. Even if you love eating steak and potatoes, would you be happy eating the same thing all year long? That is what we’re doing to our pets by giving them the same food every day.
Start introducing a variety of food to your animal. For instance, dogs love raw carrots. (For an overweight animal, carrots are a great way to introduce treats with no calories.)
Unfortunately, not all pet food you buy is made with your animal’s best interests in mind. Some pet food companies use chicken feet and chicken beaks as ingredients, which have little to no nutrition.
Others may use rendered meat, which is anything that is not fresh, or human grade. It can be roadkill, euthanized, or even diseased animals. Over the years, pets have got severely ill and even died because of poor quality meat in their food.
Also, be aware that the pet food industry will use certain food fillers and taste enhancers that can get your pet quite addicted.

One of my cats became addicted to a particular food some time ago. When I tried to get her off it, she went on a hunger strike for three days. That was pretty hard to go through yet I stood my ground. After 3 days my cat started eating the other food and never went back. But it made me realize I couldn’t trust her taste buds alone.

When people say, ‘My dog doesn’t like any other food but the one that I’ve been feeding it…’ I sometimes wonder if additives are at play.

Pet food myths

One of the big myths is that you have to stick with the same food, or your animal will get sick. Look at it this way. Do you get sick by eating a variety of foods? Then neither will your pet!
Recognize also that every animal’s body is different. The food that worked perfectly for your last pet, might not be the one that your new kitty or puppy enjoys.
You can tune into your animal’s body when you are choosing its food. The next time you go to the pet food aisle, connect with your pet’s body and ask which food would be a contribution to it.
Over the years I have had many different brands of food for my animals and also offered them home-cooked food. Some people swear by the BARF diet (bones and raw food), I suggest asking your animal’s body if it desires raw food.

Why does my dog eat grass?

Sometimes we forget that animals don’t just eat meat. In the wild, they forage on many things ― berries, dandelions, grasses, and so on. So, if your dog likes to eat grasses, allow them to do that as they may be requiring certain minerals or vitamins.
Interestingly, studies have found that when a wolf takes down an animal they eat the stomach first and part of the intestines. In a deer, that includes partially, or fully digested grasses that are now fermented in the stomach. Certain products replicate this by selling a powder made out of fermented grasses. Many different products are available, and always ask questions about your animal.

Animals and fruit

Avocados are generally considered a no-no for dogs. When I lived in Santa Barbara, California, I was the dog walker for some dogs that ate the fruit that fell off the avocado tree in their yard. Those dogs never had any issues with that. It depends on the strengths and weaknesses of each animal.
With my dog Charlie, if I eat an apple, I will throw him a piece and usually, he will catch and eat it. He likes bananas, carrots, and melons. Sometimes he spits the fruit out but that doesn’t mean he won’t eat fruit another time.

Be informed

In Talk to the Animal classes, I am asked to recommend pet food. I don’t like doing this because a particular food might work for one animal, but not the others. Instead, I encourage everyone to learn as much as possible about pet food.
This goes for horses too. What if you started looking at the quality of hay you’re buying, where was it grown, and what is in the hay. Was it grown during a dry spell, or in the wet season? All those things make a difference in the quality as well as the ingredients of the hay that you’re buying.
I know this sounds like a lot of work, yet if you start asking questions you’ll receive more awareness.

Your animals will be very grateful to have a nutritious diet that works for them and contributes to their well-being.

Remember also that your animal will go through different cycles such as summer and winter, and also stages of growth and aging. That will affect their food requirements.
Always pay attention to what will contribute to your animal at every stage of life rather than deciding you’ve found the perfect food and that’s what they’ll eat forever.
Talk to the Animals classes cover pet nutrition and other pragmatic tools to care for the animals in your life. Please check this schedule for upcoming classes