The nation’s pets are getting bigger and bigger. Our nation’s animals are getting fatter, just like we are. We’ve got some of the unhealthiest pets in Europe as a result of over feeding and under exercise. Depending on which statistics you read, between 30-60% of all dogs and cats in the UK are overweight.
- Reduced Life Expectancy
- Motion difficulties
- Skin disease
- Low immunity
- Circulatory problems
- Respiratory problems
- High operation risk
Giving tit bits to animals is a growing problem. One biscuit to a cat is like a human eating a whole packet (Hill’s pet research). 40% of pet owners in UK feed snacks to their pets more than once a day. 67% of pet owners in Europe are themselves overweight. Only 15% purchase calorie controlled food. Only 20% take regular exercise.
Some blame urban living – fast and busy lifestyles with no time to look after pets properly . Other experts point to a lack of education, and awareness of pet obesity amongst owners. Pets act as surrogate children and therefore are often over-pampered.
So what should pet owners be doing to get on top of this weighty issue?
- A good starting point is to establish whether your pet is overweight or not
- Check the ideal weight for your pet with your vet
- Take action if your pet is heavier than its ideal weight by 15%
(A good way of weighing larger pets is to weigh yourself with them and then subtract your weight)
- Check for a sagging stomach and bulging sides)
- If you can’t feel your pet’s ribs, this may be a sign that they’re overweight
- Breathlessness and reluctance to take exercise are good indicators of an overweight pet
- Doggy paddle – hydrotherapy can help with canine fitness
How do you prevent excessive weight gain in their pets?
- Feed your pet a balanced diet and follow the recommended feeding guidelines on pet food
- Avoid feeding your pets tit bits. If you must give pets occasional treats, take this into account at meal times
- Use a smaller feeding bowl if you think that you’re in danger of overfeeding your pet
- Make sure that dogs get plenty of exercise. A small dog should get at least 30 minutes exercise every day, more for a larger dog
- Play with cats to ensure that they are kept active and alert
- Don’t feed cow’s milk to cats or dogs
- Animals in hutches such as rabbits and guinea pigs should be given a run out once a day
- Small animals such as hamsters can benefit from exercise wheels and balls
Remember that dog walking can improve the fitness levels of owners too!
It is dangerous to put pets on crash diets. Introduce changes gradually and ask your vet about special low calorie feeding plan.