Keeping your pet healthy is one of the best ways to show them you care. Part of overall health is maintaining an appropriate weight. Overweight pets are at higher risk for conditions such as arthritis, liver disease, diabetes, and premature death. Older pets are at a greater risk for these issues, so it’s even more important that their weight be managed.

Overweight pets may also experience higher levels of bone and muscle injuries. Joint issues are common and pain associated with arthritis is more extreme. To help prevent these issues, here are some tips on how to manage your pet’s weight.

Visit the same veterinarian annually — Having the same vet examine your pet regularly can make it easier to identify unhealthy weight gain.

Choose the right food — Speak with your veterinarian about the type of food you are giving your pet. Some brands or formulas may be better suited for your pet than others.

Feed the right amount — Determine the right quantity of food your pet needs based on their age and ideal weight.

Be treat smart — Pets’ stomachs are not designed to process human foods. You should not use human food as a treat unless directed by your veterinarian. Pet treats should also be given in moderation.

Give your pet regular exercise — One of the most enjoyable ways to keep your pet healthy is get your dog out for a regular walk or engage your cat in some vigorous play.

Melisse Conway, D.V.M., is the medical director of SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center in St. Petersburg, where she practices her passion of shelter medicine, preventive care, and soft tissue surgery. She has extensive experience as a shelter and community clinic veterinarian.