Your pet's weight
Whats your New Year's Resolution?
and more importantly does it involve your pet?
It is believed that in Britain today over 50% of dogs and cats are overweight. This means that they are at an increased risk of developing many medical problems, which include heart disease, breathing problems, arthritis and diabetes mellitus. These conditions can lead to chronic suffering and even shorten your pet's life.
Obesity in animals is normally the result of over eating and lack of exercise.
There are many factors that can lead to weight gain, here are just a few:
TOO MUCH FOOD
Giving high calorie treats and feeding excess portions. This can be very easy to do, especially with dry diets as owners often do not realize that another handful can be equivalent to another day's ration. This is very true with cats fed on dry diets but this is not a reason not to use them. Did you know that one human biscuit is the equivalent of a hamburger for your pet?
Animals that have been neutered have a greater risk of gaining weight due to their metabolism slowing down. Do not be put off neutering your pet but be aware it is important to feed accordingly afterwards and our nurses can arrange regular checks to monitor your pet's weight after neutering. There are also specially formulated diets now available for neutered animals.
Lack of exercise leads to less energy being used up, which as a result can lead to weight gain as the excess unused calories are converted into body fat. Why not walk your dog more instead of paying out for that expensive gym membership?
Older animals tend to be less active so will often require less calories. Continuing to feed the same diet as when they were young adults will cause weight gain in their senior years.
How to recognise the signs that your pet has a weight problem. These include:
Ribs can't be felt
Waist is difficult to see
Shortness of breath and excess panting through overheating (too much body fat) and being unfit
Collars and harnesses are tight
Difficulty in walking and less inclination to exercise in dogs or play in cats
Sleeping a lot
Your pet might not show all of these signs but it does not mean that it isn't overweight. If you are in any doubt then ask one of the veterinary nurses to assess your pets weight for you.
Animals like humans have an ideal weight. If this can be achieved and maintained it leads to the animal living a longer and healthier life and being more energetic. Research has shown that even a small weight gain can make the difference between a healthy pet and an overweight one.
ACHIEVING YOUR PET'S IDEAL WEIGHT
Make an appointment to see one of the veterinary nurses who can weigh your pet and assess its body condition score. This is a measure that helps to indicate if a pet is at or above its ideal weight.
After making sure there are no medical problems we can develop a weight loss plan for your pet.
In some cases it may be recommended that you switch your food to a prescription diet. This is a balanced diet with reduced calorie content, thus aiding more effective weight loss.
If this is recommended it is important that you switch foods over several days. It is not uncommon for animals to suffer an upset stomach if the change is not done slowly. This will be discussed at your pet's weight consultation.
Along with diet, our veterinary nurses will probably discuss ways of increasing exercise to use up more energy. These may include:
Increasing your dogs walks gradually.
Playing fetch with your dog's favourite toy.
Shining a torch light on a wall for your cat to play with.
Hiding a toy or some of their daily food ration and allowing your dog or cat to find them.
You will also be recommended to see our nurses for regular check ups to monitor your pet's progress.