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With the New Year well under way and resolutions of “losing weight and getting fit” begins, what better time than now to highlight our beloved pets’ weight problems.

Sadly we are seeing more and more overweight to obese cats and dogs on a daily basis within the practice. As easy as it is for us to join the gym and eat a healthier diet, this isn’t the case for our four legged family members.

On average 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 4 dogs in the UK are obese. The implications of having an overweight or obese pet can greatly affect their health and we are seeing an increasing number of weight related health issues such as:

  • mobility difficulties and arthritis
  • bladder stones and urethral obstruction
  • behavioural issues
  • diabetes mellitus
  • liver disease
  • heart disease
  • respiratory disease
  • decreased life expectancy
  • increased risk of infections due to decreased immune system
  • poor skin and coat condition
  • higher anaesthetic risk

If you are reading this and have an overweight pet then now is the time to start making life changing decisions for them.

Where to begin?

The first thing to remember is that weight loss in any animal must be gradual. An average weight loss for your pet should be 1-3% of bodyweight per week. They must not be starved as this could have far worse health implications for them.

Phoning and booking an appointment to get a weight check and discuss the best weight loss program for your pet is advisable. The vet or nurse will be able to work out a target weight and a time frame in which this should be achieved.

Many people often think that giving treats won’t hurt their pet but this is how the weight gain starts, especially if there is little or no exercise involved in your pets daily routine. When starting on the weight loss program treats should be cut out all together.

Dogs exercising

A lighter version of their existing diet or a specific Veterinary Prescription diets are also a good way to help with your pet’s weight loss and our staff would be happy to advise the best option.

The next important factor is exercise.

Reducing the calories in your pet’s diet is vital but increasing their exercise is also very important. Again it is advisable to discuss this with our nursing staff or a vet as a sudden increase in exercise for an overweight animal can also have health implications.

Exercise can involve the whole family, not just your pet. It’s a good chance to go out together, get some fresh air and a little exercise. Begin with 30mins once to twice a day and where possible increase to an hour.

For cats, upping their play time such as using a pet laser pen, string to chase, ping pong balls or whatever gets them moving is best. You don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive cat toys, look around your house and see what you can find. Spending 30mins of play with your cat every day will give your cat a good work out and help burn off those extra calories.

Remember a healthy pet is a happy pet!

C. Shishodia RVN