Photo by Randen PedersonDo shelters have to worry about obesity in adoptable pets? Absolutely. We either admit pets with a pre-existing weight problem or we create one by keeping animals in small enclosures and showering them with love in the form of delicious food and treats.

However, most shelters recognize the danger obesity poses to pets, and work hard to implement programs designed to pave the way to better health through diet and exercise.

Some shelters opt to spend more on pet food so that they can feed the same diet every day and provide a balanced food with higher quality protein than the average pet food. This has the added advantage of reducing the volume of pet waste, which is very important to shelters who keep large numbers of animals in close quarters. The right quality food can help reduce weight as well as preventing weight gain.

Other shelters and rescue groups operate on a shoe string budget and rely heavily on donated food to feed their animals. These groups will take whatever food they can get. If you regularly donate food to a local shelter or rescue, keep this in mind when selecting a food for donation.

Most of these organizations also try to balance out their more variable diet offerings by finding foster homes for pets whenever possible and requesting that volunteers provide exercise for their dogs and cats in the form of daily walks and play sessions. Volunteers can help by engaging pets in playful games, taking dogs on outings and providing shelves, dangling toys and paper bags to enrich the cages of shelter residents to increase their activity level. Interaction with visitors also helps burn calories.