With a New Year comes a new start, meaning many of us are all too aware of the need to shed a few pounds for the year ahead.
But, just like people, pets need to eat the right diet and get enough exercise to stay fit and healthy.
But as many of us know, it’s not always easy! It’s now estimated that up to 40% of cats and dogs are overweight or have obesity; one-in-three dogs and one-in-four cats in the UK are estimated to be overweight or suffer obesity.
Clearly pet obesity is a big problem and in recent years is consistently one of the top concerns for animal welfare identified by vets.
It increases the risk of developing serious health conditions, including diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers.
PDSA vet nurse, Katy Orton, said: “It’s important pets are fed a healthy, balanced diet that is appropriate for their life-stage and also have regular exercise to reduce the risk of weight-related health conditions. Unfortunately, many pet owners are unsure whether their pet is a healthy size as overweight pets are now often seen as a ‘normal’ pet shape.”
To help keep your pet slim and healthy, Katy has put together some top tips:
· Dogs should be fed according to their breed, age, health and lifestyle. For example, a working sheepdog needs more calories than a dog who spends most of the day indoors with little exercise.
· Cats prefer lots of small meals to one large one. They ‘graze’, eating between eight and 16 times a day! So, it can be best to leave food out for them, unless there’s a chance it will go off, or be eaten by another cat. Make sure they only eat the correct daily food allowance though. Filling the bowl to the brim each time it’s empty can cause weight gain.
· Read the guidelines given on your pet food packaging, as this will provide details of how much you should be feeding your pet to make sure they are eating the correct portion size. This will vary between brands to it’s always best to check, and remember to feed your pet for the weight they should be, rather than the weight they are! Your local vet or vet nurse will be able to help you with this.
· Treats shouldn’t form part of your pets’ daily food intake, and should only be occasional; most of the extra calories will turn into fat. Dogs don’t need food treats to know you love them.
· Avoid feeding your pet human food, including any leftovers or scraps. These can contribute to unnecessary excess calories, and can also put them off their own food which meets their dietary needs!
Along with a healthy diet, our four-legged companions also need plenty of exercise to stay fit and healthy. For more diet and exercise advice, visit PDSA’s website, or ask your vet for further advice. You can also watch PDSA’s guide to checking whether your dog is a healthy weight, visit pdsa.org.uk/healthypets.
PDSA are inviting owners with overweight pets to enter Pet Fit Club, which has helped transform the lives of some of the UK’s most obese pets. For further details and how to enter, visit PDSA’s website: www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub.