Overweight pets: Cathy's tips!

Battle of the pet bulge!

Worried about your pet's weight? Do you feel that your pet needs to slim down, but not sure when to start? Pet health Consultant, Cathy Samuel gives us her Top Tips for helping overweight pets and keeping your pets in shape! From food choices, to table scrap rules and exercise, Cape Town pet health consultant, Cathy Samuel, was asked to give us her best pet weight-loss tips for good quality of life, in a healthy safe way - this is what she said…

I'd like my dogs, Holly & Silky, to be with me on this planet for as long as naturally possible - and yet the one issue I see many pet owners struggling with is bad eating habits for their pets, leading to weight gain and shorter life span. Your pet's quality of life is also affected when they are unable to be comfortable due to excess weight and weight-related health issues. So here are my TOP TIPS for healthy weight pets...

1. How do you know if your pet is overweight?
Cathy says: "Is it difficult to see your pet's waist? Does she have a saggy abdomen? If you place the palm of your hand on the side of your pet's rib cage gently, can you feels the bumps from her ribs? If yes, it probably weighs the right amount. If no, like my dog Silky, then your pet is overweight. Overweight pets have a reduced quality of life, and are prone to diabetes and other conditions that lead to discomfort and health risks, so it's best to address the issue as soon as you notice the weight creeping on. Weight-loss for cats is more complex and should not be attempted without consulting your vet first. For overweight dogs and cats your vet may run some blood tests and his nurse will work out a suitable weight-loss program tailor made for your pet. There is also the possibility that certain food preparation may contribute to illness.
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?

Email Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here.

2. What role does over-eating play?
Cathy says: "Firstly, the pet food industry has created an idea that our pets are always hungry - in reality a healthy pet that is fed twice daily, the correct amount of food for his size, will be content. Cats should have access to food all day - "ad lib" Dogs should be fed twice daily and should eat their meal within 15 - 20 minutes - any food left over after that should be removed. Another misconception is that spaying or neutering causes obesity in animals. Over-feeding causes obesity. The procedure of being neutered or spayed will cause metabolism differences, and so due to calories being burned slower, your pet will require more exercise and possibly less food. Here are 'types' of eaters, see if you recognise any: 'The Nibbler' tends to have food left out all day and nibbles constantly. By the time dinner comes, he eats the best bits, but over the day has consumed far too many calories even though he seems to eat a little. 'The beggar' is the dog that has learnt to perform and make a noise and is rewarded with table scraps and treats when the owner gives in to keep him quite. Obesity can result. 'The Good Dog' often gets treats secretly from family members, all doing the same thing, and increasing weight. Remember to reward with praise and a toy and not food - I show my affection to Holly and Silky with "Good girl!!" not foodnot food. "
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?

Email Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here.

3. What food changes would you recommend?
Cathy says: "There are many "Lite Diet" pet foods on the market, but if owners don't measure accurately and continue to feed treats, many dogs land up losing no weight. Consult with your vet who may reduce your pet's intake of food by small amounts to start with and monitor weight-loss after recording your pet's start weight. I know that Silky loves her treats, but I have switched to natural treats like carrot sticks and apple slices instead of the high calorie treats that contain sugar and fat. Remember too that a 'treat' can be a new toy or a hide chew. Speak to your vet about possibly switching to a natural diet such as Vondi's or Dogg-o-bone, that is high in protein and vegetables and low in carbohydrates. I use Digestive Support on Silky (natural remedy for digestive health in pets) to make sure her digestive system is supported properly. I also feed my dogs separately so that Silky doesn't end up sneaking a helping of Holly's food! Also, use a direct measure to portion out food - ask your vet to help you work out the correct portions for your breed. (Read why raw food is good, in this article here.)
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?

Email Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here.

4. What about exercise?
Cathy says: "This is the key for pet weight loss: less calories in + more calories used by exercise = weight loss! Remember in the wild, animals hunted for food and burned a lot more calories each day to stay slim and healthy! Always start slow. Take your pet for short walks or even start by playing at home for a few minutes each day until they have the stamina for a walk outside. Both dogs love the typical indoor fetching slippers game and throwing a tennis ball down the passage. We have also started walking longer distances in the Two Rivers Urban Park and Silky's weight is coming down nicely! Any exercise is better than no exercise at all! For cats, try toys on sticks or shine a flashlight on the wall and move it around... gradually introduce more playtime as the weeks progress. Watching underneath the tummy can help to asses if your cat is losing weight. If you feel ribs and backbone, your cat is at a healthy weight. Cats are also crazy for katnip toys, so invest in a few toys that contain katnip!"
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?

Email Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here.

5. What else can help?
Cathy says: "Remember that for very overweight pets, the joints can become inflamed and back pain can also occur. Give your pet a helping hand with natural therapy- eg. for dogs, hydrotherapy is great - water is a great way to take the pressure off sore joints and still exercise. Physiotherapy and acupuncture are also very useful. Remember to make allowances for your overweight pet, ramps are a good way to get on and off the couch - so that jumping off with excess weight doesn't lead to injury. To weigh your pet weekly, jump on the scale holding him and then subtract your weight, that will be the weight of your pet. Speak to your vet about weekly weigh-ins if that is more convenient for you. There are some great joint health tips here."
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?

Email Feelgood Pets FREE of charge for advice, click here.

Dogg-O-Bone raw pet food as well as Vondi's is available at Feelgood Health: Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake Business Park, Cape Town. 021 797 1093.

 

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