• Donnington Grove

Why Helping your Pet to Lose Weight Could Save their Life

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An increasing number of our furry friends are struggling to keep the pounds off.  A recent survey revealed that 45% of dogs and 40% of cats are overweight1!  This is a serious problem, as just like us, overweight or obese pets are likely to have a reduced lifespan and are vulnerable to developing serious health problems, including:

  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Bone and joint disease (e.g. arthritis, hip dysplasia, disc disease)
  • Diabetes
  • Skin Disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Heart and breathing problems
  • Reduced longevity
  • Disk disease

 

So, it’s time for us pet owners to take control and help our pets to ‘fight the fat’ and get back to a healthy weight.  To assist you on this journey, I have come up with some helpful tips and guidance on how to transform your porky pooch or fat cat back into a healthy hound or fit feline.

Firstly, How do I know if my pet is overweight?

 As a general rule, cats and dog are considered to be overweight if they are more than 15% heavier than their ideal weight and obese if they are 30% above their ideal weight.  To find out how your pet is doing, it’s worth popping them down to the vets to be accurately weighed, they will also be able to advise you on what your pet’s ideal and healthy weight should be.

At home, you can also use a Body Condition Scoring (BCS) chart to evaluate how your pet is doing along the way.  This is easy to do, and uses your pet’s visual appearance and feel to help you assess whether they are underweight, overweight or at their ideal weight.  You can download a BCS chart for your pet for free by following this link:

http://www.pfma.org.uk/_assets/docs/pet-size-o-meter/pet-size-o-meter-dog.pdf.

Remember, it’s much easier to prevent obesity than to treat it, so keeping a close eye on your pet’s weight is really important.

 

Secondly, why is my pet overweight?

A good place to start is to take a look at your pet’s lifestyle and be honest with yourself.  Does their calorie intake (e.g. food and treats) exceed their calorie output (e.g. play and exercise)?  If yes, then your pet will be at risk of storing those extra calories as fat. 

 However this is not the only cause and your pet’s weight problems could be a combination of factors, including:

 

  1. Lifestyle – How much exercise/play do they get daily, and for cats whether they spend time outdoors hunting and defending their territory?
  1. Breed – Certain breeds are more predisposed to weight gain than others (check out the list below for more info)
  1. Age – Older pets generally lead more sedentary lives and need fewer calories than their younger more active pet friends.
  1. Neutering status – Have they been castrated or spayed, as this makes them more likely to pile on the pounds post surgery. Neutered male cats are 3-4 times more at risk of obesity!
  1. Amount and type of food/treats fed – Some pet foods and treats contain more fat and calories than others. Human foods are especially bad and are loaded with calories.
  1. Medical conditions – Diabetes and an underactive thyroid are both linked to weight problems, as well as any health problem that impedes your pet’s ability to exercise, for example, arthritis, hip dysplasia or breathing disorders.
  1. Human influence – As a pet owner, not only do we control how much food they’re fed but we often use food and treat to show affection to our pets, which can lead to lots of extra calories in excess of their needs.

 

Finally, are certain breeds more predisposed to weight gain?

The answer is yes.  Your pet’s genes will influence their propensity to gain weight and extra vigilance over the amount of food and treats that we feed to the breeds listed below is therefore vital:

 

Labrador Retrievers

Cairn Terriers

Basset Hounds

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Cocker Spaniels

Scottish Terriers

Longhaired Daschund

Beagles

 

Our feline friends are no exception and Domestic Short Haired cats are also more at risk of being overweight.

Coming soon…

PART 2: How to help your pet shed the pounds

Get started now and check out our range of healthy low-fat and reduced calorie foods and treats on Dogtor.vet www.dogtor.vet.