Just like humans, weight gain and being overweight poses a serious risk to our pets health and quality of life.
Did you know that pet obesity is actually the most common nutritional disorder amongst cats and dogs!? In Australia alone, over 40% of pets are overweight!
It may be hard to resist giving your dog or cat that extra treat, especially with those puppy eyes starting up at you! But remember, you’re responsible for their health, quality of life & wellbeing.
So how can you tell if your pet is overweight? Firstly, make sure you are keeping up with regular check-ups with your vet and regular weigh ins at your local Just For Pets store. The vet can also tell you if your pet is in healthy weight range for their size & breed. You can check yourself too! Start by placing your hands on your dog or cats sides – Are their ribs hard to feel? If so, that’s a sign that your pet is overweight.
What are some causes of weight gain?
- Overfeeding & overeating Dogs will generally eat more than they need. If they have an unlimited access to food, chances are they will keep eating because it’s available to them. Know your ingredients, many brands of pet food can be loaded with salt and fat. This makes it taste a lot better for your pet which means they will want to stuff their faces with as much as possible!
- Feeding Habits Not measuring the amount food can be a bad habit at feeding time, often resulting to over feeding. Not to mention all the extra snacks we give them throughout the day and even left-over scraps from our meals or *the sneaky give some to the dog under the table when no one is looking trick*.
- Lack of Exercise Too much food & not enough exercise results in fast weight gain which will lead to obesity
- Gender Female dogs are more likely to become overweight
- Age Older and less active dogs are super prone to weight gain
- Overweight owners An overweight owner is more likely to have an overweight pet
- Inappropriate diets Very important to note with our small pets too, such as birds, rabbits and guinea pigs.
- Desexing It’s common for desexed animals to put on weight
- Certain breeds Some dog breeds are more likely to gain weight than other breeds
While bad feeding habits, lack of exercise and inappropriate snacks may seem harmless to some, the outcomes for your pet can be devastating in the long run. Even day to day life might be tough on your pet without you even noticing if they are overweight.
Here are some of the health risks associated with pet obesity:
- Heart Disease
- Skin Problems
- Respiratory problems
- Early onset joint problems e.g arthritis
- Neurological problems
- A shorter life expectancy
So, if you have an overweight pet – Take Action today! Remember that losing weight is a gradual process. Don’t give in or give up after only a couple of weeks! Remember, a healthy pet is a HAPPY pet.
Seek the help of the pet expert at your local Just For Pets independent pet store, you can visit them regularly for weigh ins and progress updates, as well as advice to set your pet on a path of a healthier lifestyle.
Tips to help you get started
- Get Moving If your dog’s routine is lacking physical exercise, it’s time to start moving. Not only will this be great for your pet’s health, it’s great for your own health too!
- Scheduled Portioned Feeding Feed your dog at the same times each day. Know how much your pet needs in a controlled portion for their size.
- Change the way they eat Dogs particularly eat superfast. Often “scoffing” down their food as fast as possible. While this is just a basic instinct of the canine, we can offer solutions to slow the feeding down. Such as using slow feeder bowls, ‘LickiMats’, snuffle mats, KONG or even scattering their food over an area. These are not only to slow down feeding but provide your pet with some enrichment too!
- Change the food Check the ingredients on what you are feeding your pets. Pet food often bought from supermarkets comes loaded with extra salts, fats and preservatives, think of it as fast food! Look at switching to a premium type pet food like Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin or LifeWise, these brands offer weight control food and can be found at your local Just For Pets store
- Reward with toys and play instead of food Reward good behaviour or training with toy play instead of food. One treat can become 10 treats if constant food rewards are given and that can lead to eating more than they need to maintain a healthy weight, however if your pet isn’t toy focused and treats are needed, look at healthy treats like the range from Natural Balance.
- Make sure everyone is on board and informed Make sure your family and friends are aware of your pets’ weight loss journey and goals. This can help avoid unwanted treats or food your pet does not need!