Every pet has an ideal weight but almost 50% of animals coming into the clinic are overweight. This problem can be difficult to manage and is often overlooked, despite the well-known health risks including diabetes mellitus, arthritis, cancer and respiratory and heart disease.
The first step to helping podgy pooches and curvaceous cats is identifying their ideal weight and then customising a plan. An easy way to assess your pet’s weight include being able to feel the pet’s ribs easily without excess fat covering, being able to see and feel the pet’s waist clearly when viewed from above and your pet’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side. The best way to encourage weight loss is by reducing and/or changing their food.
Best results come from feeding a prescription diet and ensuring feeding your pet the correct amount. This often involves behavioural changes of the owner, not the pet. Often owners feel guilty about “depriving” their pets when they are controlling portions or withholding treats. Prescription diets are the most effective ways to lose weight. They are designed to be complete and balanced, so you know your pet will be getting enough to eat and the exact amount to feed to get the results you want. Offering low calorie treats like raw carrots if your dog will eat them is a great alternative.
Overfeeding is very easy to do and retraining your pet not to beg makes reaching the goal much easier. Begging is a pet’s conditioned response to receiving food and simply wanting more, not always associated with hunger. Reward your pet with attention, affection or playing instead. Exercise is also important and often is inadequate for your pet’s needs, with larger breeds like Labradors and German Shepherds needing 30-60minutes active play daily and smaller breeds need at least 15-30 minutes. Reaching the ideal weight will ensure a much happier and more energetic pet.
Our vet nurses run a free of charge Weight Loss Program for cats and dogs. Contact your local clinic to find out more.