We all love our pets but vets estimate that between 40-50% of our dogs and cats are overweight.
Unfortunately, many pet owners are not recognising the signs that their pets are carrying more weight than is healthy for them. And, even if they are aware, they struggle with how to address the issue.
We all know how good our four legged family members are at persuading us to give them extra treats – those ‘I’m starving eyes‘ are so difficult to resist, aren’t they.
However, giving in to those I’m starving eyes’ can often lead to health problems.
At Mind the Paws we want all our pets to be happy and healthy, and so here is our guide to help you recognise the signs that your pet is enjoying the good life a little too much and what you can do about it.
Common health risks
- Heart disease
- Arthritis and mobility issues
- Additional breathing issues for flat faced breeds
- More susceptible to heatstroke
In addition to the fact that no one wants to see their pet suffering with one of these ailments, it is also likely to lead to a lot of expensive Vet bills that we would all prefer to avoid.
How to tell if your pet is overweight
Now we can all have rose-tinted glasses when looking at our beloved pets and be prepared to overlook a little extra weight. But how much extra, is too much?
Here are the tell-tale signs to look out for:
- For both dogs and cats, you should be able to easily feel their ribs and spine under the coat but without the ribs being too visible.
- They should have an easily identifiable waist (especially from above).
- Their belly should not sag or hang down.
- There should be no build-up of fat where the tail meets the spine.
Other signs to watch out for
In addition, there are other signs you might notice:
- Your pet becoming less motivated to go out, sleeping more and generally less enthusiastic.
- Dogs may start pant more easily on their walks.
- Becoming less mobile.
Dogs and cats, like humans, can put on weight for a variety of reasons and so it is worth considering what these may be in your pets case.
As identifying and controlling the contributing factors maybe all it takes to get things back under control, here is a list of the most common reasons:
- Poor quality food is full of fillers with very little or zero nutritional content. This means the dog or cat will need to eat more to feel full.
- Neutering changes the hormonal balance in our pets. This can slow down their metabolism which means that the calories they consume are converted to energy more slowly and therefore their food intake should be reduced accordingly.
- Research by the RVC has found that some breeds are more prone to weigh gain than others. These breeds include but are not limited to Pugs, Beagles, Golden Retrievers and English Springer Spaniels.
- Being fed too many table scraps or human food in general. Sometimes with all good intentions, using cheese or sausage too often or just in too large amounts for training is not a good long-term solution, with them both having such a high fat content.
- Not measuring the correct amount of food out for your dog or cats’ optimal weight.
- When our dogs or cats get older and become less active, their food is not always reduced accordingly. This can then easily become a vicious circle if we are not careful. The pet will be getting heavier and becoming even less active and adding even more weight and making mobility worse still.
- Treats should be included as part of our pet’s daily food allowance, not as extras. The type of treat you choose if also very important. They should be the best quality you can afford and with a low-fat content and size appropriate, especially if your pet is prone to weight gain.
Things we can do
It is not the end of the world if you feel that your cat or dog could do with losing a little excess weight. Identifying a change is needed is a big step forward, now you can focus on making little changes for the better. Here are some of our suggestions:
QUALITY FOOD. Feed the best quality food and treats that you can afford. If you are unsure about the quality of the food you are feeding, for dogs, check out www.allaboutdogfood.com for unbiased reviews on many different dog foods.
PORTION CONTROL: Feed the correct amount for every meal. Start with the guides you find on the food, but this is just a guide that you should adjust accordingly.
MODERATION. As the saying goes ‘everything in moderation’. Use the cheese or sausage for those extra special recalls and small, low fat, natural training treats for the smaller wins.
Our treats include… Rabbit Chunkies, super small yet full of flavour.
Perhaps you would like to have a go at making your own treats so you can make them the perfect size for your own dog? Take a look at my simple homemade peanut butter and banana dog biscuit recipe.
EXERCISE. Give good quality, age-appropriate exercise. If you have an older dog with mobility issues, consider taking them out for less time but more often. If you have a young and energetic dog, perhaps consider a sport like agility or canicross as well as their regular walks. These activities are not only great for physical exercise, but they are also excellent bonding activities for you and your dog.
Cats should be encouraged to play too. Chasing, jumping or rolling around with toys will help. This is especially important if you have indoor cats and have little or no access to more natural, outdoor activities
SLOW FEEDING. If your dog or cat likes to hoover up their food, consider a slow feeding bowl or scatter feed to encourage slower eating and chewing.
MEASUREMENT. Regular weigh ins are a good idea. You can do this at the Vets but you will also find many pet stores have scales in store that you can use. It’s not always easy to spot when those pounds start gradually piling on. Plus, when you are trying out new things to lose weight you will be able to see if it is working.
Healthy pets are happy pets
Little adjustments made every day can have a big impact and make your pet slimmer, healthier and happier.
Remember…the correct amount of energy in vs energy out = happy and healthy pets.
Mind the Paws, pet boutique
At Mind the Paws pets come first. We only source the best quality products that have been personally selected by Tara, using the knowledge she has gained from many years in pet business.
Even more importantly than that, our products are also approved by our own dogs & cats (our product testing team)… if they don’t meet their approval, it won’t be in the boutique!