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Pet obesity – How to be Treatwise for your pet

Our pets are considered a valued and an important member of the family – we couldn’t imagine life without them. We adore our pets, and what’s a better way to show them our love and affection by handing them the occasional treat now and again.

Happy Dog

How common is pet obesity?

Unfortunately, overweight pets are still a growing concern for vets across the UK. Around 40 per cent of dogs and cats are estimated to be overweight or obese, often classed as malnutrition, with overconsumption of calories the biggest cause.

Factors such as these and an inactive lifestyle, alongside an unbalanced diet, can all contribute to pet obesity. In fact, the 2018 PAW report found that at least 1.4 million dogs are walked less than once a day.

As humans, we can appreciate how in no time we soon pile on the pounds, especially when we have a change in activity (at Christmas, for example). In the new year we tend to change our focus to eating more healthily and exercising more; however, once January has passed, our waistlines fluctuate again.

It’s the same for our pets: the more we feed them, the quicker their waistlines will increase, and while a mere morsel here or there won’t harm them, over time an increase in calories can soon add up. What we have in common with our treasured pets is that we both require regular exercise and a balanced diet across our entire lifespan. By doing so, this will ensure pets can maintain a healthy, and active life while avoiding gaining weight, which as pet owners, it is our responsibility help pets achieve this.

Cat Guarding in Pain

At Animal Trust, we are devoted to helping sick pets access quality care exactly when they need help. As part of our mission to assist animals, we are encouraging all pet owners to become treatwise in 2019 and to work with us to ensure our pets are as healthy as possible, starting with their waistlines.

To help you feel more informed about pet obesity, we have created a helpful guide which details:

  • The signs of pet obesity in dogs and cats
  • The effects of pet obesity
  • Dog breeds prone to pet obesity
  • Cat breeds prone to pet obesity
  • How to prevent pet obesity

What are the signs of obesity in dogs?

Signs of obesity in dogs can be tricky to identify depending on your dog’s breed; some may naturally be fluffier than others, however, all dogs have an optimal weight for their height, size and age, which a vet measures against the body condition score.

If you’re uncertain whether your dog is obese, follow these steps at home. With your dog standing on all fours:

What are the signs of obesity in cats?

Our fluffy friends can also gain weight if we feed them too many treats. If your cat is over 20 per cent heavier than their optimised weight, they may be diagnosed as obese, and an overweight cat is 10 to 19 per cent heavier than the optimal weight.

If you think your cat has gained weight, follow these steps to check for the signs. With your cat standing on all fours:

Overweight pets may also behave differently to a pet at a healthy weight. Your cat or dog may seem reluctant to go out, be walked, run, and find it difficult to climb stairs, so they might need some positive encouragement from us to get moving and to lose a few pounds.

Check your cat’s health at home using our checklist

The effects of pet obesity

The effects of pet obesity are detrimental to your pet’s quality of life, as an increase in weight can affect their general body functions. Similarly to humans, more immediate effects of pet obesity can include our animals developing diabetes, skin diseases, heart disease, and arthritis due to the strain extra weight has on a pet’s joints.

Dog breeds prone to gaining weight

Older dogs are also prone to gaining weight, as they become less mobile with age, whereas older or geriatric cats tend to lose weight as they can lose their appetite. Depending on your pet’s activity, it’s important to modify your pet’s diet in relation to how much they move and play. As a pet parent, it is your responsibility to help them achieve the ideal body weight without intaking too many calories.

Cat breeds prone to gaining weight

A cat’s behaviour, size and shape can contribute to them being more prone to gaining weight, these breeds include some the UK’s favourite:

How to Prevent Pet Obesity

If you think your dog or cat is overweight, here are our nine top weight management techniques you can incorporate to improve their waistline:

How to be treatwise for your pet

The key is to start small

Incorporating a few of the changes discussed will soon help your pet lose weight healthily and over time, their lifestyle will improve. These changes won’t happen overnight but with the right commitment from pet owners, our animals will soon reap the health benefits.

Pets will adapt better if you slowly start to introduce these techniques in their life so it’s not a huge shock to the system. This works particularly well with diet change if you are trying a new type of dog or cat food. Mix the new food with the old and slowly reduce feeding the original food brand over time.

If you’re ever in doubt on how to safely make changes to your pet’s diet, please do not hesitate to book a free consultation for advice with a veterinary professional at Animal Trust.

For more information on how to be treatwise for your pet, an expert member of the Animal Trust team is more than happy to help.

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Coronavirus Measures in place at Animal Trust

We have put in some new measures for all clients when attending appointments at one of our surgeries. Read more here.

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