Keep an eye on your pet’s weight and it could enjoy a happier, longer life. We look at how a simple tool can help you do just that.Do you think your pet has a weight problem? Chances are, you’ll say ‘no’. When the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) asked this question to owners, around two-thirds said their pet was just about spot on, thank you very much.
Only here’s the thing. Vets say that nearly half of all pets they treat are overweight or obese. Which means many owners aren’t properly assessing their animal’s condition. What’s more, the problem of obesity in cats and dogs is, like many pets, growing.
Why does pet obesity matters? It’s tempting to think that a few extra rolls around the middle brings out the oh-so-adorable in our pets. (And nobody is doubting that we give that extra helping or treat from a place of love.) But the facts really should make us all think twice. Just a 20% increase in body weight can contribute to conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular and respiratory illness, and diabetes. Think about it. An overweight pet will most likely cost you more in food and vet bills. But the biggest price of those extra pounds could be your pet’s life, and the thought of the extra years you could have spent together.
How to check if your pet is overweight? Few of us actually know how to assess our pet’s weight and even fewer carry out the monthly recommended check. Fortunately, free Pet Size-O-Meter downloadable guides for cats and dogs make the whole process easy. Each guide offers a simple explanation about how to test your cat or dog’s weight. In cats, it involves little more than examining the rib, spine and hip bones to perform a quick assessment. It’s the same in dogs, with an added check around the waist. The test is simple. It takes less than a minute or so. And doing it could be the first step towards making healthy changes for your pet and possibly saving its life.
What if my pet is overweight? Don’t panic! Make an appointment to see your vet to discuss the issue. It’s also important to remember that the Pet Size-O-Meter is a general guide that can’t account for differences in breed. It might be that your pet is a good weight and in fine fettle after all. But if the Pet Size-O-Meter indicate a potential issue, it’s always wise to check with your vet. If your pet is indeed overweight, you’re almost certainly going to want to make a number of changes. Your vet will talk to you about a new, healthy regime. To get you started, here’s 5 things owners will want to do to promote a healthy weight.
5 steps to a healthy pet:
Follow feeding guidelines For many of us, feeding guidelines on pet food packaging are so much ‘yada yada’. We simply aren’t listening. But we should be. Failing to consider them is believed to be the biggest contributor to weight gain among pets. Read them. Follow them, allowing some give and take for your individual pet’s needs. And, yes, stick to a healthy food regime even when your pet is putting on an Oscar-worthy begging performance and asking for more!
Get the family on board So many healthy feeding regimes fall apart because various members of the family feed pets in an uncoordinated way. One good way to prevent accidental overfeeding is to weigh out your pet’s food at the start of the day. Then divide it up into the correct number of meals throughout the day. You could also run a rota system, so everyone knows who is feeding your pet and when.
Treat sensibly It’s okay to occasionally treat a pet, providing you follow a simple rule – whatever you treat must be deducted from your cat or dog’s overall meal allowance. And try to resist treating with leftover human food – it’s often way too calorific for pets, and vets say it’s a big factor in weight gain. Use made-for-pets treats instead.
Get physical Exercise plays a vital role in controlling pet weight. As a rule of thumb, dogs need 2 x 30 minute periods of exercise per day and cats 4 x 10 minutes. For dogs, that means walkies. For cats, indoor play or a run around the garden is on the agenda. Bear in mind, though, that these are approximate guides and you should look further into the needs of your breed.
Use the Pet Size-O-Meter Regularly monitor your pet’s weight by using the downloadable Pet Size-O-Meter. Once per month is about right. This will help you keep a close eye on your pet’s weight and get to grips (so to speak) with any emerging fat rolls before they get to be too big of a problem. Visit http://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-size-o-meter to download the Pet Size-O-Meter.
If you would like to find out more about different breeds of dogs and cats, including their characteristics, exercise and nutrition essentials, click here.
Disclaimer: The content on this page aims to offer useful information but does not constitute veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately.