Pet obesity is becoming a major health concern, and something we are seeing more and more. We are now asking pet owners to get on board with a drive to help reduce the number of overweight pets, and help to keep their pets in tip top condition.
So, I hear you cry, “Why does it matter if my best furry friend has a bit of extra weight? Doesn’t it make him more cute and cuddly?”
The simple answer is yes, it does matter. Pet obesity matters a lot. Cute and cuddly they may be, but being overweight poses significant medical issues for your pet. These include arthritis, pancreatitis and endocrine disorders. Obesity also makes anaesthetics and surgery more risky, causes bone and joint issues, and even reduces life expectancy.
To complicate things even further, most pet owners aren’t aware that their pets are overweight. Pets often gain weight slowly over a period of time, resulting in it going unnoticed, often not being picked up until your pet visits the vet for other reasons.
What can you do to fix pet obesity?
As a pet owner, this is an opportunity to make a difference and be involved. The place to start is by popping your pet in to their vets, and getting them weighed. Pets should be weighed every two months to keep track of their weight and catch weight gain early, before it starts to cause problems.
We appreciate that keeping pounds off pets’ waistlines can be a little tricky. So here’s some hints and tips:
Don’t feed human foods
Human food is far too high in calories for dogs and cats, and some can even be dangerous to pets. One biscuit or slice of toast might be nothing to us, but it’s far too much for your pet. Go easy on the pet treats too, they are high in calories.
Get them moving!
Regular, gentle exercise is important for all pets. Get into the routine of taking your dog for a walk every day. If you can’t get out and about, throwing a ball in the yard for half an hour does a great substitute for a walk. Bond with your cat by encouraging them to play with their favourite toy every day.
Check you’re feeding the right amount
Does your pet have a food bowl down all the time and its gets refilled whenever its empty? Check on the packet you’re not giving more than your pet needs. Try giving food at set meal times. If your pet gets bored while you’re out, try putting some food in a toy that makes them work for it and keeps then active too.
How does a pet diet work?
If your pet needs to go on a diet, the best way is to have a gradual weight loss over 4 to 6 months. No pet benefits from fast weight loss. It can make them ill and makes them less likely to keep the weight off. Weigh them monthly to see progress. It might seem like a big lifestyle change for them, but it will pay off.
And the most important thing to remember is that we all love our pets and want them to be happy and healthy for many years to come, and being in perfect condition is an important part of that.