Pet Obesity: Everything you Need to Know to Keep Your pet a Healthy Weight

As a pet owner you’ll naturally want to give your furry friends all the treats they deserve. But, just like their owners, pets need to have the right diet and get enough exercise to stay fit and healthy – and as we all know, this isn’t always easy!

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, says: “Our latest PAW Report found that vets estimate nearly half of pooches in the UK to be overweight, so pet obesity is a serious problem. The health risks associated with carrying extra pounds are worrying and as our four-legged friends are such loved members of our family, this is clearly an issue we need to address.

What are the health risks to my pet?

“Obesity increases the risk of arthritis, breathing problems and bladder issues amongst other health concerns and can result in a reduced lifespan for cats and dogs. Carrying excess weight can also mean underlying health issues appear earlier in life and make existing health issues worse. Getting your furry friend fit and healthy will greatly reduce the likelihood of them developing these problems.

How do I know if my pooch or puss is a healthy weight?

“Weighing your pet regularly will help you keep a close eye on weight loss or gain, but it’s also important to know their body shape, as this helps you to tell if they’re the correct weight. Your pet’s ideal shape is the same no matter what their breed or age. Different breeds may carry extra weight in different places, but they should always have a tucked in waist and you should be able to feel their ribs just below the skin surface. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking your pet’s shape every few weeks – by doing so you’ll get to know what is normal for them.

“The ‘look and feel’ test can be a handy guide:

  • Look at your pet from the side and above – they should have a visible waist.
  • Feel under your pet’s tummy. It should go in and not bulge out.
  • Feel your pet’s chest and back – you should be able to feel their ribs, spine and hipbones below the skin, but they shouldn’t stick out.
  • Feel the base of their tail – there shouldn’t be a build-up of fat.

How should I feed my furry friend?

“The amount and type of food your pet eats plays a important part in controlling their weight; the correct diet can help to keep them fit and healthy. We recommend feeding dogs and cats high quality commercially available food, that is labelled ‘complete’ – this has all the daily nutrients they will need.

“You should also make sure the food is designed for your four-legged friend’s life stage – kittens and puppies need different food from their older counterparts.

How should my pet exercise?

“Walks are a simple yet effective way to not only improve our pooch’s health – but your own too! Throwing toys, letting them have a sniff around, and investigating new routes will keep walks exciting and help them stay healthy.

“Daily playtime with your pet is a great way to make sure they get exercise, especially if they live indoors. Cats love anything they can hit or chase, so engaging them with these activities won’t only be a fun exercise, but a great way to bond too.

“Once your four-legged friend has reached their ideal weight and shape, they should feel healthier, happier and more active!”

For more information on how to maintain a healthy weight for your pet, you can download PDSA’s free guide as part of  its #WeighUp campaign, which aims to raise awareness of pet obesity across the UK.

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