Keeping your pet in shape
As we spring into spring lots of us start thinking about our waistlines! Whilst obesity is on the increase in humans, we need to be aware of this in our pets too. We should be looking objectively at our pets to see if they are overweight and if they are, take action.
Run your hands over their chest – you should be able to easily feel (but not see) their ribs without pressing too hard. They should also have a waist when viewed from both above and the side. By contrast, if you can pinch an inch (or more), and if your pet’s stomach sags down a bit, then a diet may be in order.
The big issue is that carrying extra weight can lead to a range of health risks –
Arthritis – as with humans, if the joints are under constant strain from extra weight, they are more likely to become arthritic and painful. Diabetes – for cats, being obese is a huge risk factor for them developing diabetes. Heart disease – excess body fat puts the heart under increased strain and can increase the onset of heart failure.
Ensure your pet stays the right weight. Make sure your pet’s diet is suitable for them and the lifestyle they lead. Neutered pets tend to have a slower metabolism and so are more prone to weight gain. Certain breeds are more vulnerable to being overweight – take Labradors for example. Indoor cats will lead a more sedentary life so you should bear this in mind; and don’t forget to limit the treats!
Helping your pet lose weight. There are many different ‘light’ and tailored diets on the market which will keep your pets just as full, but lower their calorie intake. Exercise – regular exercise and more frequent play will help. Additionally, make them work for their dinner using puzzle toys. This has the benefit of keeping them entertained at the same time.
The good news is that as your pet loses weight the benefits of increased healthiness and vitality will be seen quite quickly.
If you are concerned about your pet gaining weight, speak to your vet who will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.