Portly pets

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Obesity among our pets is increasing… and it seems to be a never-ending battle

Many owners seem reluctant to address the issue of overweight pets. After all, it’s hard to change our habits, even when we know our pet is too heavy – they just love their treats!

When surveyed, many owners feel there are more important issues facing their pets, but the reality is that being overweight puts animals at risk of diabetes, joint and mobility issues, and heart disease – all lifelong, debilitating conditions.

I’d estimate around 70% of the patients we see every day are overweight and, worryingly, animals as young as eight months are coming in on the heavier side of healthy. And many have weight-related illness. We all know that once the weight is on, it’s harder to shift, and studies have shown that if a pet is heavy at one year old, they’ll probably be overweight all their life.

In one study, 63% of owners felt their pet was a ‘good weight’, even if they were actually too heavy – we’re just so used to seeing overweight pets these days.

Treats are an effective way to get attention from our pets… and many owners confuse this with affection. Swapping to interaction, playtime, walking or even a short training session will not only bond your pet to you without food, it will benefit their health and wellbeing.

Tips for managing your pet’s weight

  • Get the nurse at your local practice to weigh your pet to see if they need to lose weight, and if so, how much;
  • Feed them the right amount… 68% of pet owners don’t follow the guidelines on their chosen food;
  • Treat responsibly – give healthy treats such as carrots, and take treats out of a daily food allowance;
  • Make sure family members aren’t doubling up on feeds;
  • Monitor weight and diet so you can nip any problems in the bud;
  • Neutered pets need 25% fewer calories – so cut the food back by a quarter;
  • Utilise free weight management clinics – and apply the tips and advice!;
  • Remember: your pet relies upon you to keep them healthy.

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