Some people might look at an overweight pet and say, “oh, how cute.” While it’s true that any pet can be cute, pet obesity is nothing to be fawned over. It’s not healthy and will ultimately lower a pet’s life expectancy. Here are 5 reasons why pet obesity is a big concern. If you think your pet might be overweight, talk with your veterinarian.
1. Pet obesity exacerbates arthritis
Dr. Ernie Ward writes, "The number one medical condition associated with excess weight is osteoarthritis (OA). Both large and small breeds of dogs are typically affected, but cats are developing crippling arthritis at alarming rates. If your pet is carrying as little as one or two extra pounds, remember those pounds are stressing tiny joints not designed to carry extra weight. Making matters worse, fat cells produce harmful chemicals known as adipocytokines that damage even non-weight bearing joints. There is no cure for arthritis; we can only minimize the pain." Learn more about arthritis and pets here >>>
2. Obese pets have less fun
Dogs love to exercise; it’s in their nature. They weren’t bred to ride the couch. It only takes a little research on the history of breeds to notice that most have hunted and worked with humans for thousands of years. “Dogs are born to work for a living,” says the ASPCA website. “Most are bred for a particular purpose like hunting, herding livestock, or providing protection.” Knowing this, do you think a dog that has a hard time getting around would be happy? Would you? Check out these fun exercises to do with your dog >>>
3. Obesity can increase the risk of diabetes
According to Dr. Ruth MacPete, "Diabetes mellitus is a multifactorial disease influenced by both inherited and environmental factors... However, of all the risk factors, obesity is the most important, especially since the prevalence of obesity is increasing." Learn more about diabetes here >>>
4. Pet obesity is increasing
Matt Henry writes that according to recent statistics, compiled in the 2013 Banfield State of Our Site Report, "Pet obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. Drawing on a sizable sample group of 2 million dogs and nearly half a million cats... 37% more dogs and 90% more cats are obese this year compared to five years ago. Read more statistics about the pet-obesity epidemic here >>>
5. Obesity can increase the risk of high blood pressure
According to Dr. Ernie Ward, "Sometimes we forget our pets get many of the same diseases we do. Hypertension is one of these commonly overlooked conditions in pets. High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because you can’t tell if your pet has it, nor can you see the damage it’s causing -- until it's too late." Learn more about heart disease in dogs and cats >>>
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Friday, September 16, 2016
15-36 Segment 2: Pet Obesity
Synopsis: Just as people face an obesity crisis in the US, so do our pets, who have many of the same health consequences as overweight humans. Experts discuss why pet obesity is a problem and ways pet owners can keep their furry friends healthy.
Host: Nancy Benson. Guests: Dr. Ernie Ward, Veterinarian and founder, Association for Pet Obesity Prevention Dr. Deborah Linder, Research Assistant Professor, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University
Links for more information:
NANCY BENSON: For years now, Americans have been told we’re facing an obesity epidemic. The first lady has even started “Let’s Move!”, a federal initiative created to combat obesity in American children. But what we hear less about is that America’s pets are facing a similar problem.
ERNIE WARD: Pet obesity is without a doubt the number one health threat our nation’s pets face. To try to get a handle on how big the problem was, we began conducting prevalence surveys every year. And what we found was over half of the nation’s dogs and cats weigh too much.
BENSON: That’s Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian, author, and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. He says an overweight pet can mean increased risk for many severe health problems.
WARD: The problems associated with obesity in pets are similar to those we see in humans. So, type 2 diabetes is just at incredible levels now, especially in cats in the U.S. We see an exacerbation and even a creation of osteoarthritis, so crippling arthritis of the hips, the knees, the elbows, the shoulders. We see high blood pressure. There’s evidence that suggests that kidney failure in dogs and cats is associated with excess weight. And probably my biggest fear is the relationship between excess fat tissue and cancer. We are seeing an explosion of data suggesting that the more fat a dog or cat is carrying, the more at risk they are for a wide variety of cancers.
BENSON: And it’s not that animals are simply a few pounds heavier than they should be. He says more pets than ever are exceptionally overweight.
WARD: Our yearly prevalence studies clearly indicate that this is a worsening problem. And where the real issue is for us is the number of obese pets is expanding. So, we rate pets as being overweight and obese, and these have clinical meanings to doctors. But, the reality is an obese pet is at greater risk of developing diseases and a shortened life expectancy than one that’s simply overweight. And what we’re seeing is that in our prevalence studies, we’re seeing more and more obese tests. So, these aren’t dogs or cats that are just one or two pounds overweight these are dogs and cats that are 10, 20, even 30 pounds overweight. So, that’s the most disturbing aspect of our research over the years.
BENSON: Ward says the reasons so many animals are growing to obese levels are relatively straightforward.
WARD: We’ve got issues such as the urbanization of America, so now we don’t live in areas where we have access to farmland where the dog or cat can roam. We don’t even play outside much anymore. So, as we’ve enclosed our lives within the 4 walls of apartments and small homes, we’ve also taken away the opportunity for pets to get aerobic activity. The other factor is we’re feeding more calories than ever before. Today’s pet foods are more calorically dense than previous generations. That means that each cup or can has more calories than they did 20 years ago.
BENSON: Dr. Deborah Linder agrees that it all boils down to diet and exercise. Linder is a research assistant professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. She says exercise is important, but these days it’s more complicated than ever to determine the proper diet for pets.
LINDER: There’s no one diet that’s best for all dogs, so when I try and help owners and guide them to which diet is best, I take a lot of things into account: certainly, that it be formulated for weight loss. So, I want to make sure that even though we’re cutting calories, we’re not cutting essential nutrients as well. You would never want to just take a regular maintenance food and cut that in half because then you’re cutting all their vitamins and minerals, things like that. Some other things we may take into account are protein needs, fiber, whether that may help some pets feel more full, but it also may mean that they have to go to the bathroom more. So, then we kind of think about pet owner preferences what’s the lifestyle like, canned food versus dry food. There are a lot of things that go into it that really you need to think about the individual pet and pet owner that are in front of you to make that decision.
BENSON: Linder advises that it’s a good idea to seek professional help to cut through the noise of so many different pet food options.
LINDER: I think the most important thing is just making sure you’re not trying to go it alone, that pet owners are engaging their veterinarians too. Cause unfortunately there’s a lot of marketing out there and advertising of pet foods. And if you just go by that advertising, you might not know what facts are. Foods that are marketed for weight loss don’t necessarily have a lot of regulation or guidelines around them. So, you may actually be picking a food that’s more calories than the food you’re currently feeding. So, it’s really important to work with your veterinarian and get the facts.
BENSON: But Linder says before you go to the vet’s office, there are a few things pet owners should do.
LINDER: Something that can help before you get there, or if you want to try it on your own, is starting with just a diet journal. So, writing down over the course of a few days everything that passes the lips of your pet’s mouth. That includes, certainly, their main diets, but also treats, anything you may give if you need to give medication, if you need to use food for that, any chews that they might have, for example, rawhides or dental treats. All of those things contribute calories, so the best thing that we can do from the starting point is get a good assessment of what calories the pet is consuming before we start a plan for them.
BENSON: And if owners are unsure whether they should start keeping such a journal, Linder recommends a quick test to help determine whether a pet has a problem.
LINDER: The best thing an owner can do to determine if their pet is a healthy body weight or body condition, instead of the body mass index that we have in people where we measure height and weight, dogs come in different sizes, so the best thing that you can do is feel over your pet’s ribcage, whether it be a dog or a cat, and when you feel over their ribs it should be no more padded than the back of your hand. That’s a really quick and easy way to determine if your pet is an ideal weight.
BENSON: And in addition to finding the right pet food, Ward says owners need to be more aware of how many treats they’re handing out.
WARD: The real root of the problem is the desire to please our pets. I mean, we feel guilty often we have to leave them alone or we don’t have time to take them for a walk or play. So, we fill that void with food. And this really is an obstacle that I think as a society and culture we’re going to have to come to grips with. Food equals love to many pet owners. But, that doesn’t equal love for every pet. What pets really crave is our attention, our inner action. So, we have to realize as pet owners that maybe reaching for that cookie isn’t as satisfying to that dog as just petting them for a few minutes.
BENSON: But all too often when a pet is on a diet, Ward sees weeks or months of progress spoiled quickly if the owner slips back into old habits.
WARD: What’ll happen is the dog or cat will lose some weight initially, but then they’ll begin begging, waking you up at 2 in the morning, saying, “Please give me more food,” and of course the owner gives in. One of my favorite tips, also, is more frequent feedings, especially for cats. I’ll offer what I call a “midnight snack”. Right before you go to bed, you’re going to feed a small portion of the daily calories. And this will often allow you, and your cat hopefully, to get a good night’s rest.
BENSON: Ultimately, the problem of pet obesity isn’t easy to combat. However, Ward says a loving pet owner really has no choice. Being overweight or obese is simply too harmful to the animal’s well being.
PENCE: Every time when I’m in the exam room and I’ve diagnosed the dog or the cat and I say, “Hey, we need to lose 3 or 4 pounds,” the owner thinks, “Well, that’s just not a big deal.” If they could sit in my chair and fast-forward to the thousands of cases I’ve seen in my career to the end point, that is the dog or cat that’s now suffering from these consequences of feeding a little bit too much every day, not paying attention to the weight they would change their ways. And that’s really the most heartbreaking dilemma for me as a practicing veterinarian. I’m sitting in the chair. I’m saying we need to lose a few pounds. I’m doing that because I know what the future holds and I know that if they don’t change, it’s going to be devastating. It’s going to be heartbreaking. So, the one thing I would say is if you want your dog or cat to lead a long, healthy, vital, vigorous life keep it lean and healthy.
Pet Obesity – Being Overweight Shortens Life: Is Your Dog at Risk?
Donna | January 7, 2021 August 3, 2020 | Family, Pets
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, In 2018, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese. As little as 5 extra pounds puts your dog at risk for some pretty significant diseases like osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes, Respiratory and Heart disease, Kidney disease, High blood pressure, Chronic inflammation and several forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancers. With all these risks, it’s no surprise that your chubby pup will have a shorter life expectancy than his fitter, leaner friends. We need to be proactive in obesity prevention to keep our furry friends healthy and happy.
Not new information?
It shouldn’t be new information that packing extra pounds poses serious health threats, but according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “We are just now learning how serious and threatening a few extra pounds can be for both humans and our critter companions.” I think the question isn’t whether or not being overweight is unhealthy for our pets, it’s how do we prevent it? We love our playful pals. They’re family. I want my dogs to share as much of my life with me as ‘humanly’ possible. So what can we do to “tip the scales” in the right direction?
1. Find out your dog’s healthy weight and actual weight.
I mean, if it ain’t broke…right? If your pup is already where he needs to be. Great job! You are rocking the diet and exercise habits. Share a picture with us or even leave a comment down below to tell us how you keep your hound so healthy. 56% of us need to know. Do your community a service and share!
2. Talk to your vet.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53% of pet owners said their vets started the conversation about weight and risks of obesity. 20% said that they had to ask specifically about it. So always ask. Check this link below this article to see the ideal weight for your pup’s breed, then pay attention when your pet is weighed during regular check-ups.
Personally,I think we all need to learn everything we can about our pets breed. The only way to ensure we’re always keeping them healthy is to stay informed. It’s hard because we can never know all the things we don’t know. Even though our vets are professionals and definitely the gurus when it comes to pet health, we need to know the basics about our own pups breed. It’s crucial. We need to know which diseases they’re prone to and which conditions they are likely to be afflicted by so that we can keep an eye out for signs or symptoms of them. Early detection and treatment saves lives. Be in the know and talk with your vet.
3. Cut calories.
Again, don’t do this without talking to your pup’s doctor. There’s a lot of hullabaloo about the different kinds of food brands, their ingredients and how they were made and all kinds of different opinion-based factors. The bottom line is count and cut the calories.
Yes, you can talk to your vet about which food to feed your pet, but odds are, you’d get different recommendations depending on the doctor. My pit-mix, Jordan, sees an allergy doctor and a primary doctor. Her allergy doctor recommends a different brand of food than her primary doctor. The recommendations are not based solely on her allergies, either. They just have different belief systems, so they like different foods for different reasons.
Neither of them are wrong. They’re both fantastic professionals who take wonderful care of my girl. In the end, we choose to buy the food Jordan likes most and works best for our budget. I have no guilt over this and you shouldn’t either. You don’t have to get the fancy, crazy expensive brands to be a good pet parent. There are a lot of reasonably priced top quality options out there. Check the ingredients. You can and should ask your vet about important nutritional values to keep an eye out for and which ingredients to avoid.
4. Measure Meals.
It makes sense that if we’re counting calories, we need to measure our food, right? I taught 4th grade for a long time, and even my students could tell you that you can’t count something without using measurement.
If you are like I used to be and just leave the food bowl full all the time, please stop. If your pet isn’t overweight now, you are definitely helping him get there. You also shouldn’t just simply fill the bowl just to fill the bowl or guesstimate. It needs to be accurate.
The easiest type of food to buy when measurement must be considered, is canned food. I mean, the weight is right there on the can! It’s hard to go wrong and you don’t really need any extra tools.
But, I have big dogs. My little 8 pound Shorkie does get the luxury of wet food, but my two pit-mixes eat dry food. It’s just more cost effective.
I used to use a measuring cup. We measure human food with a measuring cup. I should have been good, right? To my surprise, I learned that the only way to be completely accurate is to weigh the food with an actual food scale. I didn’t think it was a big deal until I read that, “The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has done studies to show that feeding as few as ten extra tiny kibbles of food per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year in indoor cats and small dogs.”
Have your vet help you calculate the number of calories your pet needs each day. Then divide that by how many times per day you feed your friend and voila, you’ll know how much food you should serve for each meal.
5. Tone down the treats.
This goes right along with counting calories, doesn’t it? If I’m on a diet and I work really hard to plan and measure my meals, why would I spoil it by eating an entire bag of chips? It’s pretty counterintuitive. Can I sneak a yummy light yogurt as a snack? Sure. There isn’t much harm there and probiotics are very beneficial, right? And so, snacking works the same for your pooch. It’s recommended that you choose treats that are no more than 10 calories per serving.Fruits and veggies make for a healthy and tasty snack for dogs.
You can use the link below to check the List of Fruits and Veggies Dogs Can and Can’t Eat from the American Kennel Club. Some of my favorite “can eats” from this list are bananas, carrots and oranges. p.s. – If you would peel it before you eat, you should peel it before feeding it to your pup.
Check out the American Kennel Club’s list here .
When tackling treats, always remember to add them to the total daily calorie intake. Even healthy treats can add up to unwanted pounds. A good way to monitor treat distribution is to set aside the allowed amount for the day. If you know your pet can only have one carrot and half a banana per day, set the carrot and sliced banana aside. Then break these into smaller parts so you can continue to reward your pet with these smaller-sized treats throughout the day. Of course, this portioning method can be applied to any of the treats you choose to include in your pets diet, not just fruits and vegetables.
6. Avoid fad diets.
Some may work (for a while), but most probably won’t and some may not be able to meet your pets nutritional needs. Since you’re already talking with your vet, ask about any diet you think you’d like to try, then make an informed decision.
7. Exercise your pet regularly.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says, “Pet health is more complicated than just overeating and taking too many cat naps. Obesity in pets can be caused by poor lifestyle, hormonal imbalances, genetics or bacteria in your pet’s stomach and gut.”
I was surprised to find that exercise wasn’t in their obesity- fighting arsenal. They did, however, speak to the topic in a separate article and suggested we keep a few things in mind. First, be sure to check with your vet before implementing any exercise routine. Be mindful that walking for weight loss is different than simply taking a casual stroll. To ward off obesity, you need to walk at a “brisk” pace – which means you should be breaking a sweat. They say you should start brisk, right out the door. If the walk begins too leisurely, your pooch may not be inclined to cooperate once you speed things up. For a small dog, you should be taking about 15 minutes to cover a mile. The leash should be drawn close to you, so that your dog has only about 2-3 feet of freedom.
It is recommended that time goals be set. If your dog has a normal heart and lung function, normal blood pressure and isn’t suffering from other injuries or medical conditions, a 30 minute walk 5 times a week is recommended.
If your dog isn’t in the habit of taking brisk walks, here is a recommended schedule which can help him ease into this new routine:
Ease Your Dog Into a Walking Routine
|Week 1||30 minutes total||10 minutes brisk followed by 20 minutes casual pace|
|Week 2||30 minutes total||15 minutes brisk followed by 15 minutes casual pace|
|Week 3||30 minutes total||20 minutes brisk followed by 10 minutes casual pace|
|Week 4||35-40 minutes total||30 minutes brisk followed by 5-10 minutes casual pace|
|Week 5+||35-60 minutes total|| Two 20-30 minute walks per day: 15-25 minutes brisk |
followed by 5 minutes casual pace
8. Consider adding supplements to your pets diet.
Yes, another topic of discussion for you and your veterinarian. Supplements can help provide key nutrients and ward off some of those digestive problems mentioned earlier.
The American Kennel Club states that about one third of American pets are on some type of dietary supplement. They go on to report that there is no evidence which proves the effectiveness of these puppy pills, although there is ““encouraging evidence to support their use.”
According to the AKC, the most popular supplements for dogs are:
Glucosamine which is supposed to help with arthritis and improve mobility.
Fish Oil which has many benefits. It’s most commonly known for improving coat quality and shine and alleviate skin allergies, but there is also reason to believe it helps with arthritis, heart health, and joint health.
Antioxidants are popular for counteracting some of the effects of aging, such as memory loss and cognitive dysfunction. They’re also used as a treatment for heart disease in dogs and to reduce inflammation.
Probiotics are used to treat diarrhea and other digestive problems.
Although none of these supplements seems to directly impact obesity, they all thought to help improve the overall health of your pet. Again, you should check with your vet before adding supplements to your dog’s diet.
If your pet is overweight, it is also recommended that you talk with your vet about the “therapeutic diet”. This diet was created by doctors and ensures that your pet is healthy and full by providing different levels of fibers and fats.
We love our pets and they love us back. It is our responsibility to keep them safe, healthy and happy. Even though it’s best to start them off with the proper diet and nutrients, it’s never too late to take steps toward change. Stay informed about your pets health and be mindful when caring for him.
Do you have an older dog or pooch prone to joint problems? Keep ’em comfy. Learn how by checking out our How To Choose The Best Orthopedic Pet Bed post.
Check out this podcast to learn how to use essential oils for your pet. Use this worksheet to help guide your learning.
Your guide to All things pets
Okay, let’s get started on some lists. The first one we’ll start with is usually the most common resolution for the new year….losing weight. We have a great article on how to tell if your pet is overweight, why it’s important and what you can do about it. Now let’s transform those Chunky Monkeys into Skinny Minnies!
T he most common nutritional problem in dogs and cats is obesity. Experts estimate that 20-50% of cats and 25-30% of dogs in industrial nations are overweight.
Veterinarians consider cats obese if they weigh 25% or more above normal. There’s a lot more variation in how vets define obesity in dogs, but it’s usually when dogs are 15% or more above optimum weight.
Dogs and cats at their optimum weight usually have an hourglass figure when you look down at them from above – you’ll see a slight indentation in the loin and you should be able to feel (but not see) their ribs. Some breeds of dogs do not have an hourglass figure at their optimum weight.
When cats and dogs are slightly overweight, you can feel a slight covering of excess fat over their ribs, you can see fat on their waist and stomach, and their abdominal area isn’t indented.
In extremely obese dogs and cats, their heavy fat layer is so thick that you can’t feel their ribs. You’ll also see and feel fat deposits on their face, limbs, stomach, and at the base of their tail. In addition, obese cats and dogs have a distended abdomen with no visible waist.
Using the guidelines above can be really helpful in figuring out if your pet is overweight, big-boned, or simply has a lot of fur. Run your hands down their sides and try to feel their ribcage. If you can feel their ribs by applying very light pressure with your hands, they’re probably within their optimal weight range. If you can only feel their ribs by pressing your fingertips in more firmly, they’re probably slightly overweight and could stand to lose shed a little weight. If you can’t feel any ribs at all, they’re probably quite obese and their health is at stake.
Is it a big deal to have an overweight pet?
Yes. Obesity in dogs and cats is a big deal because there are many health problems caused (or made worse) by obesity. This includes a shorter life expectancy, heart problems, arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems, liver diseases, hypertension, intervertebral disk disease, urinary incontinence, skin problems, increased risk of infections, and even cancer.
There are diseases that can cause animals to gain weight even when you control their diet. This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to consult a veterinarian before and during your attempts to reduce your pet’s weight.
What’s the best weight-loss diet for pets?
You might be surprised to learn that there is no such thing as one perfect weight-management food for all cats or all dogs. It turns out that what works well for one pet, may not work well for another. In fact, there is a lot of variety in “light” pet foods, which you’ll see when reading the Guaranteed Analysis on the food labels. The two basic approaches are (1) high-protein, low-fat and (2) lower-protein, low-fat. Each approach works very well for some pets.
In general, the best weight-loss diets for dogs and cats tend to contain:
• Higher meat protein to prevent muscle loss. (Some large and giant dog breeds need lower protein foods.)
• Low to moderate levels of fat to limit calories.
• Higher fiber to help them feel full. This also helps control blood sugar.
• Lower in calories to help them burn stored fat.
• Supplemental L-carnitine to increase metabolism, maintain lean muscle mass while losing weight, and decrease the risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Veterinarians may recommend very different feeding objectives for pets with certain veterinary conditions.
Before changing the diet of an overweight cat or dog, work with your veterinarian to rule out health conditions that might affect weight and weight loss strategies, such as thyroid disease, diabetes, and even age. Your vet might also provide guidance in choosing the ideal diet for your pet.
Like humans, pets will gradually lose weight when you feed them a diet that meets their daily nutrient requirements with as few calories as necessary. This is why most veterinarians recommend starting off by simply feeding smaller amounts of a dog’s or cat’s usual diet in addition to trying the techniques listed in the next section. If this combination doesn’t work, your vet might suggest switching to a different food.
Research shows that feeding dogs and cats canned or raw food instead of kibble helps them lose weight and keep the weight off. So if you feed your pet kibble and you don’t want to switch 100% of your pet’s diet to a totally different food, try just decreasing the amount of kibble you give them and replacing it with a bit of wet food.
Aside from diet, how can I help my pet lose weight?
There are many ways to help your pet lose weight aside from changing their diet. Establish meal times instead of allowing them to free-feed. Calculate how many cups of food they’ve been eating, then use a measuring cup to very gradually decrease the amount of food you give them. Research has found that even feeding the same amount of food, but dividing it into two or more meals per day, makes it easier for pets to lose weight and keep it off than it is for pets who are fed only once a day or who always have access to food.
Reducing or eliminating treats and snacks can go a long way towards helping them shed extra pounds. Sometimes we don’t realize how many extra calories we’re giving our pets because of these little extras. Most dogs and cats like playtime as much as they like treat-time, so consider reaching for a toy instead of a bag of treats.
Increase their activity by playing more. If your dog is social, take them to a dog park or doggie day care and they will naturally get more exercise by running around with their buddies. Many cats prefer vertical space, so providing more cat perches or adding cat beds to shelves is an easy way to entice them to get more exercise.
Other things to keep in mind when helping your pet lose weight
Go slow. Gradual weight loss is ideal. Cats who lose weight too fast are at risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Dogs and cats should lose no more than 1-2% of their total body weight per week. A 15lb cat should lose no more than .1-.3lb (or 2-5oz) in a week, and a 100lb dog should lose no more than 1-2 lbs in a week.
If you have more than one pet at home, one probably has a weight problem. If so, the one with the weight problem is trying to take control over the food source. Feeding each of them in different areas, such as separate rooms or crates, can usually improve the situation. Also, since overweight pets are often less active and agile, try putting food beyond their reach: on cat trees, windowsills, side tables, or shelves. Find ways for the overweight pet to get exercise when they eat. For pets who eat dry kibble, try using puzzle toys and treat balls instead of food bowls. If they can’t get up high, divide the meals into smaller portions and place the dishes throughout the house. If they are able to jump or climb, put the food in higher places so the pets get a work-out as they approach their food dish. For pets who live in houses with stairs, move their food dishes to different levels of the house so they have to go up and down the stairs every time they want to eat.