Pet packing on pounds? Here is what you can do to help regulate their weight during the pandemic

HOUSTON – If your pet has put on weight during the pandemic, you’re not alone. We talked to a local vet about what it takes to get rid of those extra pounds.

A recent Hills Pet Nutrition survey says our four-legged friends are putting on pandemic pounds with us, and not every pet parent wants to hear it.

Dr. Andrew Novosad with Sugar Land Veterinary Specialists says the first step to better health is recognizing there’s a problem.

“We use things like big-boned, there’s lots of ways you can phrase it. You find yourself having to be tactful… Yes, your dog’s overweight!” Dr. Novosad said.

Plenty of you on Facebook say ‘Yep, we get it.” Dana says, “Gibbs expects a little bite of everything.” Carey says her cat, Puck, will eat the dog’s food if her bowl’s empty. Heather says Annie loves to steal English muffins. Lori’s cat will harass you until her bowl is full, and Berna writes simply, “COVID diet fail.”

Pandemic or not, Dr. Novosad said treats should be given out sparingly. As for Kibble, you can reduce the amount you’re feeding, or use a diet version, but dogs and cats typically differ on what they’ll tolerate. While dogs will likely accept a bland diet, “Cats will go on a hunger strike just to prove a point,” Dr. Novosad said.

Dr. Novosad said to check with your vet for guidance. If you’ve tried everything, including more exercise, and the weight still sticks, it may mean there’s something else going on, like a thyroid problem, which can also be treated.

“At the end of the day, pet obesity is something that is very preventable. I think if you recognize that there is a problem, you can do things to try and counteract and to help,” Dr. Novosad said.

If you need some guidance on helping your pet slim down the right way, visit avma.org, the American Veterinary Association website.