- Know your pet’s ideal weight – ask your vet or vet nurse’s opinion, they have plenty of experience of what ‘normal’ is – better than any chart or book
- Weigh your pet at least twice a year – your vets can do it for you on their veterinary weighing scales, there is no charge of course
- You should be able feel your pet’s ribs and perhaps see the last few. If you can’t feel them – your pet is too fat!
- There is only one reason for being overweight – too much food and not enough exercise!
- There is only one way to lose weight – eat less and exercise more!
- There are ‘light’ diets available which help a lot and have all the other nutrients your pet needs
- Rarely pets have endocrine or ‘glandular’ conditions which can predispose to being overweight – one can test for these if suspicious and most are readily treatable
It’s very easy for some pets to end up overweight. It creeps up; they look cute and cuddly, and are delighted whenever you offer food. Of course they are – they’re simple creatures, they love their grub, they are programmed to eat whenever food presents itself (they may have only eaten a few times a week in the wild after all) and the poor dears know no better! But you do!! Be the brains of the outfit, restrict their diet to what they need and if they are overweight there is only ONE reason – they are eating more than they are burning off. Simple as that.
Very rarely dogs can have a disease which predisposes them to weight gain such as hypothyroidism (which, by the way, is easily diagnosed and treated) but in general if more goes in than goes out then it stays on as fat – just like us. There is no other way for it to get there!
In very rare cases of obesity and where no underlying medical reason is found the vet will discuss with you the use of certain medications & supplements which can act to block absorption of fat in the intestine and/or decrease the appetite.
So if your pet is putting on weight, reduce what you are feeding them and increase their exercise.Your dog will much prefer an extra walk and run than a few biscuits, while your cat will love chasing a (pretend) mouse on a piece of string or a laser pointer on a wall.
A slim pet will live a longer happier life and run less risk of developing problems such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease. Much the same as us!
If your pet does need to lose weight, have a chat with your veterinary practice’s nurses. They will advise you of your pet’s ideal weight, whether you should change to a ‘light’ diet, and will be delighted to see you regularly for weigh-ins and may even reward you if the weight keeps dropping. Just one word of caution – cats and dogs shouldn’t lose weight too quickly, so take advantage of what the nurses have to offer. Weightwatchers for pets does exist – right there in the vets!
Finally as pets get older they are prone to developing arthritis. Being overweight will pre-dispose to this, so it’s vital to keep as close to a normal body-weight as possible. Read here for more on arthritis.