New Year's Resolution: Conquering Christmas Calories

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It is now officially the New Year – and with a New Year, comes New Year’s resolutions! It is essential that we consider the well-being of our furry companions at this time of year too. There’s no doubt that they would have taken any opportunity to make a grab for festive foods left too willingly in their reach over the Christmas holiday. Many animals will even be voluntarily fed naughty snacks by their owners, meaning that stealing won’t even be necessary! So how much damage can obesity actually have on your pet? 

Pet obesity 

A study conducted by VetCompass shows that within their sample, 6.1% of dogs were obese, making it a common problem affecting our canine companions.  Don’t forget that cats are just as prone to obesity as dogs.

This is again, likely due to them being given fatty foods and snacks that aren’t good for them and can even cause serious health issues.

Obesity will inevitably reduce your pet’s quality of life. They will be less keen to exercise and play, and this can even lead to more serious health issues, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary tract disease
  • Heart disease 

Spotting an overweight pet

You can keep an eye on those extra inches that creep their way around your pet’s waistline by learning how to recognise the symptoms of obesity. One option is to weigh them regularly, monitoring and logging figures that may increase or decrease.

Another way of checking your pet’s body condition is to see how easy it is to feel the ribs. You should be able to slightly see the ribs and feel them when applying gentle pressure. You will know when your animal has become too plump for their own good when you can’t feel the ribs because of excess fat. For cats, alarm bells should also ring if you notice that they have a sagging abdominal fat pad.

You should also watch out for changes in your pet’s behaviour. Signs like constant panting, a lack of energy or frequent breaks during exercise could be a warning that your pet is carrying too much extra weight. 

Tips to help prevent weight gain 

  • Free weight clinics are available at many of our Medivet practices, which means that you can arrange regular weigh-ins for your pet. You can use our online practice finder to locate your nearest one. Frequent visits will ensure that you and your pet receive the support needed to keep them in shape.
  • Ensure your pet is consuming the right food as advised by your vet. Some people prefer to let their pet live off a home-made diet. However, this makes it harder to be sure that they are getting all the required nutrients they need.
  • Avoid overfeeding or giving your pet too many treats.
  • How much food are you giving your pet? The appropriate amount of food for your pet will depend on its breed, age, size and lifestyle. You can usually find feeding guidelines on the packet that will help keep your pet in good shape.
  • Do you designate one person in the house to feed your pet? If not, do you communicate with other people who are feeding them on a daily basis? It would be worrying to find that everyone in the house has been giving your pet treats everyday purely due to lack of communication. And of course your pet isn’t going to turn down a delicious snack!
  • Regular exercise is the key to keeping your pet healthy and in good shape. Remember that walking and running are not the only forms of exercise for your pet. There are all kinds of activities you can encourage them to do that will help them keep in shape and have fun too! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Cats:

  • Playing with toys
  • Playing games such as ‘Catch the Light’ where you can shine a small torch on the walls and floor for your cat to chase
  • Short walks - harnesses can be purchased from your local pet shop

Dogs:

  • Regular walks
  • Playing fetch
  • Hide and seek
  • Swimming is ideal for dogs with back problems or arthritis. Ask your vet about hydrotherapy 

So when you’re at home lounging in your favourite fluffy slippers after the mayhem of Christmas, remember that a daily walk for your dog is just as important as it is any other time of year. Or if you’re still finding yourself busy with friends and family, a few moments of playtime and interaction with your cat would do them the world of good.

If you have any further questions related to your pet’s weight, please speak to a member of staff who will be able to give you information regarding Medivet’s weight clinics. By arranging regular weigh-ins, your vet will be able to analyse and monitor your pet’s current condition making sure that they are at their ideal weight.

For more information and advice regarding pet weight loss, please visit:

http://www.hillspet.co.uk/en-gb/weight-management/index.html

Posted January 1, 2016 in Pet Care Advice

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