Pet obesity is a growing issue in the UK, with a recent survey stating that 3.8 million of the UK’s dogs are overweight or obese. Pet obesity can lead and contribute to a long list of health implications including Arthritis, Diabetes Mellitus, heart problems, plus a shorter life expectancy. However, it is reversible, and you can take simple steps to help them get back into shape as well as a better quality of life.
Firstly we have to say that all family members need to be on board and want to help with the process, you do not want one person undoing all the good work by secretly giving treats. If you have numerous people in your house hold, why not create a food chart which you can stick on the fridge, therefore what your pet has already eaten that day can easily be seen – meaning no accidental over feeding.
See also: How to tell if your dog is over weight
This may seem like an obvious one, but every healthy dog should be having two twenty minute walks per day. At the minimum ensure your dog is receiving this and then start to gradually increase by 5-10 minutes. If your dog is older or already has a pre-existing health conditions discuss exercise with your Vet before increasing the amount.
Keep cats stimulated with toys, cats love to play, so use this as a way to increase exercise, laser pens and treat balls can be great for this. If your cat is food-orientated, try sneaking in extra exercise by placing their food bowl at the top of the stairs, even just climbing one flight of stairs extra a day will help make a difference.
Swap treats for attention
People often mistake an animal seeking attention as a request for additional food – especially with cats. Next time your pet gives you the puppy dog eyes, why not use it as an opportunity for an extra cuddle or take a couple of extra minutes to play with them to provide mental stimulation.
If you are currently using treats to aid training your dog, try to use them wisely and lower their meal intake accordingly to compensate for the additional food. If possible, try training your dog with a toy as the reward instead of a treat.Change the food
A lot of food brands now offer a ‘low fat or calorie’ range, so if you find you are struggling to shift the weight on their normal diet you may opt to change to one of these (all diets should be changed gradually over the course of a week). With all pet food, it is important to ensure you are following the feeding guidelines on the packet, instead of estimating how much they need per day, if you feel you are struggling with this most veterinary surgeries offer free weight clinic appointments with the Nurse, and it may be something you want to consider.
As with humans, your pet should lose weight gradually over time to ensure it is lost healthily, it may seem like a long process, but when you start to notice the spring back in your pet’s step it will all be worth it.