Diana Saakian Bokhari
Domestic pets have become as chubby as their owners. In both humans and animals, obesity has reached epidemic proportion.
Domestic pets have become as chubby as their owners. In both humans and animals, obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Being obese (more than 15 percent above normal body weight) is a major risk factor for conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart problems, and even cancer. And just like us, our animal friends are suffering these consequences of poor nutrition and not enough exercise.
To combat overweight problems in your pet, the first thing to consider is diet. A natural diet close to what animals eat in the wild is ideal. Wild cats and dogs consume mainly proteins with some vegetables for carbohydrates, but not grains. In most commercial pet foods, however, the top ingredients are grains such as wheat, oats and corn; these serve as fillers, add unwanted calories and provide no nutrition for your pet. In addition, "lite" diets are not necessarily designed for weight loss but rather for weight maintenance, and many contain byproducts, more fillers and undesirable chemicals.
Switching to a quality, protein-based, human-grade pet food is a start. But as with any successful weight-loss plan, one must also decrease the quantity of food eaten, and increase activity level.
Importance Of Exercise
The importance of exercise for our pets' health is paramount. In the wild, animals are constantly on the move by migrating, hunting or fighting for prey, mating and playing. Their caloric intake does not exceed their activity level, and therefore obesity is not often, if ever, documented among them. Simply taking your pets for three leisurely walks is not ample for stimulating their metabolic rate; they need to run and play as well. Most dog owners would do well for their pet by joining agility classes where dogs get to run and play with them! Cat owners may consider taking 15 to 20 minutes per day to play with their cat at home.
Supplementing with nutritional supplements is also beneficial, as it can help stimulate metabolism and increase nutrient absorption. It's strongly recommended that you consult your wholistic veterinarian in order to ensure proper dosage, safety and efficiency.
Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live in the digestive tract. They assist in proper digestion and absorption of all nutrients and promote good bowel health. They are also necessary for the destruction of harmful bacteria; they hinder toxin absorption and the bonding of harmful bacteria to intestinal cells. Probiotics not only aid in weight loss, but they also help in promoting general good health. Unfortunately, they are easily destroyed by stress, medication and poor quality foods, which is why they must be restored on a regular basis.
Vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, known as essential fatty acids (EFAs) are not produced by the body and must be derived from the diet. EFAs help boost metabolic rate and maintain healthy skin, joints and kidneys. They also play a major role in regulating hormone production and are essential in all body functions, especially maintaining the cardiovascular, nervous, reproductive and immune systems. EFAs reinforce cell membranes and help protect them from toxins, allergens and contagious agents. Getting enough good fats is crucial to any successful weight-loss program.
Other Helpful Supplements
Ginger aids digestion and is used for lowering cholesterol. Most overweight pets add extra pressure onto their joints; because ginger helps increase blood circulation and possesses anti-inflammatory properties, it also assists in reducing discomfort associated with stressed or arthritic joints.
Chromium, found mostly in brewer's yeast and liver, is a trace mineral that helps maintain blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol. It works closely with insulin in transferring glucose from the blood into the cells for use as energy, and therefore helps control food cravings associated with blood sugar level imbalances. Not surprisingly, chromium has also been found helpful in the treatment of both diabetes and hypoglycemia.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) works to break down fats and convert them into fuel that is used by the body. Numerous studies have shown that almost 50 per cent of obese individuals are CoQ10 deficient, and that weight loss was accelerated when they supplemented with this nutrient. In addition, CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant and is also beneficial for heart disease, periodontal disease and diabetes.