Pets: Small changes can make a big difference when a pet needs to lose weight _lowres

Photo provided by Animal Rescue New Orleans—Boots is a Lab-mix puppy who was found living under a house in New Orleans, near a cat-feeding station. He loves dogs and cats, and has never met a stranger. The adoption fee is $200 and includes neuter, UTD and rabies vaccines and chip.

Is your pet overweight?

Just as in humans, weight gain seems to creep up on our pets. It is estimated that 54 percent of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight. Many pets gain weight for the same reasons people do: because of poor diet and lack of exercise. Just like us, our pets can suffer from health problems when they are overweight, including heart disease, liver disease, arthritis and diabetes.

Here are a few tips to help your pet shed the pounds and live a longer, healthier life.

Feed quality food in the right portions: Switching to a healthier food decreases the empty calories your dog consumes. Avoid foods that feature corn, cornmeal or wheat as the first or second ingredient, and instead choose foods with chicken or turkey listed first.

These foods have more protein for an active, healthy lifestyle. Pay special attention to portion control; even slight decreases in the amount of food your pet consumes will equal fewer calories and weight loss.

Give fewer treats: Many prepackaged dog treats have little nutritional value for pets and are only extra calories. Decreasing the number of treats you offer your pet each day and opting for other forms of positive reinforcement, such as praise or petting, will help with weight loss. Switching to healthful treats, such as slices of apple or green beans, will help with weight control.

More exercise: It is not wise to exercise your dog in the heat of summer, so limit exercise to early morning or late evening during the summer months.

If your schedule does not permit for lengthy daily walks, throwing the ball in the yard and even adding in small walks or a short jog a day can make a difference, again not during the hottest parts of the day. Engage your cat in play with toys to get him off the sofa and moving around. Exercising your pet also leads to more exercise for you, so it is a win-win situation.

Talk to your vet: Before making any drastic changes, talk to your vet. Sometimes weight gain can be a sign of an underlying problem. Your vet can properly evaluate your pet’s overall health and make recommendations for the best foods and the right amount of exercise for your pet’s particular needs.

When you combine better nutrition, fewer calories and more exercise into your pet’s daily schedule, you will see the weight come off and have a happier, healthier pet.


RUNNING OF THE BULLS: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be one of the beneficiaries of Ex Txupinazo, the preparty for San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, July 11, at The Sugar Mill, 1021 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans. ARNO will be there with adoptable dogs. For information, visit

ADOPTION EVENT: There will be an ARNO adoption event with cats and dogs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at Petco, 3520 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie. For information, send email to

JALOPY JUBILEE: Cool cars, cold drinks and hot raffles, with all proceeds benefiting Animal Rescue New Orleans, will be part of the Jalopy Jubilee from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, July 13, at The Mill, 5808 River Oaks Road South, Harahan. Adoptable dogs will be there. The cover is $5. For information, send email to

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to In Jefferson Parish, send to and, and in St. Bernard Parish, send to

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at arno., call (504) 571-1900 or visit www.