Much like humans, our pets can often fall into the trap of becoming a little larger around the middle than is desirable. Although exercise is essential for our pets and extremely beneficial in helping them to maintain their health, diet is the biggest factor when it comes to weight loss. Unfortunately, putting our pets on a diet (and sticking to it!) is much easier said than done.
How can pets become overweight?
If you’re feeding your pet a balanced diet, such as Hill’s or Royal Canin dry or wet food, then your pet doesn’t need any other form of supplementation. This includes treats, and especially includes tidbits under the dinner table!
Puppies commonly become overweight because they are being given too many treats, which are used to reward them for good behaviour. Whilst food rewards are hugely helpful when training our pups, we need to make sure that they are coming out of the total food allowance for that day. This means that if we give them a handful of treats, we cut down their breakfast and dinner accordingly. Keeping your puppy at a healthy weight will significantly help them to keep off the pounds later in life!
The next culprit: owners who feed their pets leftovers. Although you may feel that this is simply a way to show your pet how much you love them, giving them leftovers is a big NO. Not only does human food often contain ingredients that aren’t good for cats and dogs, it is commonly calorie rich and even a small serving can equate to their entire day’s calorie intake! That’s like us eating double what we need, every single day.
Senior pets are another group which are commonly overweight. Often, the excuse is that they simply aren’t as active as they used to be. Whilst this may be true, diet is the largest contributing factor to weight gain, not lack of exercise. Owners of senior pets should be sure to adjust their diet for the decrease in exercise, and maintain a strict regime when it comes to handing out treats!
What can I do about it?
Check if your pet is overweight
For the month of May, the Ark is offering FREE nurse consults for patients who may need a little extra help with their weight, or if you’re just not sure if your pet is overweight. We are able to discuss your pet’s diet and exercise regime with you, and provide guidance on how to help your pet get their bikini body back!
Whether you’ve got a house full of huskies who need to run all day long, or a few dachshunds who can only travel as fast as their little legs will carry them, physical activity is essential for your pup! With our busy lifestyles, it’s all too easy to skip a daily walk with our four legged friend. We simply put it off until the next day, or the next, or the next. And although we’re told again and again that you must walk your dog once a day, unfortunately this isn’t happening enough.
Not only does daily walking help your pup to get rid of all their built up energy, it also helps to mentally stimulate them, and allows them to perform actions such as sniffing and socialising that are intrinsic to their very nature.
If you don’t take your dog out regularly, here are some handy hints to help you get back into the swing of things:
- Vary your walks: take your dog on a short walk for a toilet break, or mix it up with 20 minutes of vigorous walking around the neighbourhood. If they haven’t socialised in the last few days, why not head to the dog park and give them some time off-lead? This will keep both you and your dog interested in walking.
- Tie in dog walking with your own fitness regime: while not everyone loves exercise, it is an important part of staying healthy, and a short 10-20 minute walk is a great start to getting fit. If you enjoy jogging or heading to the park, be sure to take your dog with you so they can also enjoy the time outdoors.
- Meet up with friends: organise to walk your dog with a friend and their dog. This way your pooch gets social time as well as you!
RSPCA Million Paws Walk 2017
As is Ark tradition, we will be walking in the RSPCA Million Paws Walk this month. It’s a great opportunity to head outdoors with your pup, and to raise money for a wonderful cause! If you’d like to register, head over to the RSPCA website, or if you’d like to donate, click the button below!