With summer backyard BBQ’s in full swing and holidays like the 4th of July approaching, it may be tempting to share a burger with your four-legged friend. After all, those pleading eyes are just too cute to say no to! Whether your pet is drooling over your steak or his or her favorite bag of treats, it’s important to stay mindful of their dietary needs.

According to the Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2017 State of Pet Health, about one-third of dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight. This is close to the percentage of U.S. adults that are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has increased by 169 percent for cats and 158 percent for dogs over the last 10 years. And just as with humans, obesity puts pets at risk for plenty of health issues like orthopedic diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases and much more.

As a pet owner, it’s only natural to want to spoil and see our four-legged friends happy. However, there are plenty of ways to make them feel special without compromising their diet or health.  Before you share an extra goodie with your pet, keep these fun and guilt-free treats in mind!

Belly Rubs: There’s nothing cuter than four paws in the air and a wagging tail, patiently waiting for a good old belly rub! Most dogs love belly rubs, almost as much as a game of fetch or chewing on a bone. Rubbing your pup’s belly is a comforting action, a symbol of trust, and a part of our relationship with dogs. Most cats, on the other hand, do not enjoy having their belly touched. Pay close attention to your dog or cat’s behavior and if they seem uncomfortable with belly rubs, opt for an ear scratch instead!

Adventure: Dogs love nothing more than spending the day outside. A trip to a new dog park, a hike in the woods, or a swim in the lake are a few fun outdoor activities to consider. In addition to regularly walking your canine, devoting time to leave the neighborhood and explore new territory is thrilling to our animal companions. It’s a great way to burn off energy and get their mental and physical stimulation flowing. For cats, playtime should be part of their daily routine as well. Purchase them a new toy and spend some extra time playing around the house. Adventures and play will be sure to keep your pet happy, healthy and in shape!


DIY Treat: If you truly feel the way to your pet’s heart is through their tummy, consider baking them a special homemade, healthy treat as oppose to store-brought biscuits. This way, you can control the ingredients added, providing them with the freshest, healthiest food option possible! Your pet will likely join you in the kitchen to partake in the cooking session, so this could be a nice way to bond over a delicious snack. During the summer months, a fruity “pup-sicle” will make a nice treat to cool off with too!

Relaxation: Let’s face it, pets love to sleep. Adult dogs spend 12 – 14 hours per day snoozing and cats 12 – 16 hours (sometimes even more!) A great way to treat your pet like a king or queen is to make their relaxation area extra cozy. Purchase a new bed, hammock or a cool cat condo. For senior pets, focus on choosing a bed or lounge area that has good support and is designed with their needs in mind. Your furry friend will be so grateful for this update since they do spend half their day relaxing.

Massage: Did you know the power of touch, in the form of massage, can be therapeutic for you and your dog or cat? All pet parents should learn the proper way to give a pet massage. The benefits of massage have a wide range, but a few benefits include: it can help your pet relax at bedtime, ease sore muscles, reduce stress, helps improve flexibility and decrease pain in their joints. Massaging your dog or cat is a great bonding experience and ultimately, a wonderful way to help them feel their absolute best!