For our pets, having an extra treat can be a year round problem and can soon cause them to pile on the pounds and become overweight. Pets can be treated as surrogate children and therefore become over-pampered. It is in our nature to nurture the animals we have an emotional bond with and over feeding is a prime example of this.
Depending on the statistics you read, between 30-60% of all dogs and cats in the UK are overweight.
Although some diseases can cause obesity, these remain rare, and the most common cause is too much food and too little exercise. In a recent survey one in four dog owners admitted to never taking their dogs for a walk!
There are several factors that make it more likely that a pet may become obese.
- BREED – Certain dog breeds are more prone to obesity
- AGE – Risk of obesity increases with age
- NEUTERING – Once neutered a dog is more likely to pile on the pounds
- SEX – With the exception of older dogs, females are more likely to become overweight than males
- OWNER – It has been reported that overweight owners are more likely to have overweight dogs, one theory is that they are less likely to be exercised sufficiently
By increasing a dog’s activity you and your pet will burn more calories, as well as increasing muscle development and help your dog lose weight. Very overweight dogs may need time to develop the stamina for exercise. Once food portions are under control, most dogs can maintain proper body weight with a brisk 20-30 minute walk, just twice a day.
So, if any of the above signs are visible in your own pet, check with your vet about free nurse weight clinics for good advice on feeding and exercising your dog and cats, and cut out treats and titbits. Portion control is also very important please remember to feed your pet a proper balanced diet which is measured each day to maintain a healthy weight.