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Promoting Healthy Weight with Enrichment
Pet CareHealth

October 2, 2017

PetSafe® Expert

Michelle Mullins, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA

Promoting Healthy Weight with Enrichment

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Those numbers have grown substantially just since 2007. A report from the Banfield State of Pet Health shows the number of overweight dogs has grown 74%, and the number overweight cats is up 179%. In addition to reduced life expectancy, obesity in pets can result in orthopedic disease and cancer.

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for your pet. The following tips can help you to keep your pet healthy:

  • Proper portioning of your pet’s meals reduces overeating and keeps your pet from gaining additional weight.
  • Challenging your pet to work for their food is great for healthy weight and mental enrichment.
  • All pets need exercise, especially to maintain a healthy weight.

Check out this resource to find out if your pet is considered overweight:

Portion Control

One of the most common ways pets become overweight or obese is through free-feeding, which means pets have access to food at all times. You can reduce the likelihood of your pet becoming overweight or obese by providing appropriately sized meals 2 times per day. Portion control is easy with the PetSafe® Smart Feed Automatic Pet Feeder which provides suitable sized meals at the right time. Another option is PetSafe meal-dispensing toys, many of which hold appropriately sized meals and use playtime to make meal-time more fun. Use a measuring cup or scoop to ensure you don’t accidently have what I call “kibble creep”. Kibble creep happens when you use an unmarked cup or give heaping portions. That little extra that’s flowing over the top, adds up to several extra calories a day. Additionally you can use parts of their regular meals for training. Teach and practice a couple minutes just before a meal so their training “treats” are just part of their daily calorie count. 

Food as a challenge

Cats and dogs were not meant to eat from food dumped in bowls. Their natural instinct is to forage and hunt! Enrichment toys can promote healthy eating and weight loss while allowing pets to work a little to get their meals. By requiring pets to work for their food, the pet is up and moving which promotes healthy exercise. These toys can help pets eat and play the way they were designed to. An animal’s instinct is to stalk their prey, catch it and tuck in for dinner!  They can practice these behaviors with enrichment toys. Chasing down a meal is much more enriching than having a cup of kibblein a bowl. Enrichment toys can also keep them thinking and learning which promotes cognitive health.


Exercising your pet is one of the best ways to keep off the extra pounds. There are many options for activity, including:

Written by

Michelle Mullins, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA

Michelle Mullins, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA

PetSafe® Trainer & Educator

PetSafe® Expert

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