Pet-lovers know the importance of a healthy diet for their cats and dogs, but many can’t resist the occasional treat. Now animal charity the PDSA warns that pet obesity rates could reach 50% by 2013, which is shocking news for responsible pet owners.*
Obesity in cats and dogs is preventable with a good diet and regular exercise, but it can cause health problems. A good pet cover will pay vet’s bills, but owners need to do their bit to make sure obesity-related health problems are kept to a minimum.
Once your pet crosses the line from cute and cuddly to obese, it can be at risk from serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Lack of mobility and carrying extra weight can lead to problems with walking and orthopaedic disease and difficulty breathing.
Older dogs and cats are at risk from obesity, mostly due to their sedentary lifestyle, and certain breeds are more prone than others.
The RSPCA suggests carrying out a few checks to make sure your pet isn’t heading for obesity:
You should be able to see the outline of your pet’s ribs, and feel them, as they shouldn’t be covered by excess body fat.
When you look at your pet from above, you should be able to see and feel your pet’s waistline.
Your pet’s stomach should be tucked up, rather than hanging down, when you look at it from the side.
If you’re in any doubt about whether your pet’s weight is within the acceptable limits, your vet should be able to weigh them and advise you on how to start a weight-loss plan if necessary.
There are many steps you can take to prevent obesity in your cat or dog:
Give them regular exercise:
With dogs, this is as easy as going for more, longer walks. A cat may benefit from having a new toy to chase to get it moving around.
Cats and dogs can be crafty when it comes to “asking” for food, but controlled portions and regular mealtimes are good for them.
Limit the treats:
You might think you’re being kind giving your pet sweet treats, but they don’t need them in their diet. If you automatically throw your leftovers into the dog or cat bowl, think again as the calories can really add up.
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