Obesity is one of the most common health concerns in our dogs and cats, and is a life-long disease (there is no cure – even if weight returns to within normal range they are still classified as clinically obese!) As with humans, obesity can cause or compound other health issues, reducing the quality of life and lifespan of our furry friends.
Many vet clinics run weight loss programmes, where a veterinary nurse can work with you to create an individualised plan for your pet. Weight loss is hard work and it’s going to take time and willpower (for you as well! Remember to check-in with your clinic regularly for ongoing support and monitoring) but the effort is well worth it. Below are a few small things you can do to help reduce that waistline:
• Avoid “crash diets”. These can be damaging to your pet’s health and rarely have the desired effect in the mid-to-long term
• Rather than simply feeding less food, ask your veterinary professional to recommend a proper weight loss diet, which will ensure your pet is not deprived of essential nutrients
• Limit treats to 10% of the total daily calorie intake
• Set aside a portion of your pet’s daily intake and use this as treats
• If possible, divide the daily ration into several meals (eg: 3-4 smaller meals a day rather than 1-2 larger meals)
• Avoid giving human food and table scraps (NO! Your pet does not need leftover milk from your cereal or your bacon rinds)
• Get your pet working for their food (scavenger hunts, treat balls, put the food somewhere that they need to walk some distance to reach it). Check with your vet first to ensure this activity is safe for your pet if it has a medical condition
• If you have multiple pets, ensure one isn’t supplementing their daily ration by stealing another’s food
• Have a daily play time. Even a 2-minute play for a cat is beneficial (followed by 10 hours of sleep)
Most importantly, be realistic about weight loss goals. Any human trying to lose weight knows it can be difficult and at times demoralising. Celebrate the small successes and remember that there are better ways to show love for your pet than by feeding them!
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The information we offer is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Our recommendation is to always do your research.
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