The importance of Nutrition

The food your pet eats plays an important part in his or her overall health and well-being. And a nutritious, balanced diet is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle.
Eating too much food will cause your pet to become overweight, and this increases the risk of conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and breathing problems.

Is my pet overweight?

All pets have an ideal weight for their size and breed. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what this is,and show you how to check that your pet is maintaining a healthy weight.

If your pet is overweight, you may notice some of the following signs:

  • Ribs cannot easily be felt when running your hand along your pets side
  • Loss of an obvious waist.
  • Collar needs loosening.
  • Difficulty in walking.
  • Slow movement.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Bad temper.
  • Sleeping more than usual.

What causes weight gain?

Weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat. This is usually caused by eating too much, especially when combined with lack of exercise. But there can be other contributing factors too:

Age
Older pets are usually less active so need fewer calories.

Breed
Some breeds are more likely to gain weight, these include: Labrador, Retrievers, Cocker and King Charles Spaniels and mixed breed cats.

Neutering/Spaying
Because this procedure alters the metabolism of pets, they can become prone to weight gain.

Medical Problems
Very occasionally weight gain is associated with a medical disorder that may require specific treatment.

IMPORTANT
Even if your pet does not show any signs of being overweight, it’s a good idea to have regular weight checks at the veterinarians to make sure his or her ideal weight is maintained.

How can I help my pet to lose weight?

Weight problems are common in cats and dogs, and can be successfully managed through changes in diet and lifestyle. Combining a change in diet with increased exercise is the most effective way of achieving a healthy weight.

Exercise tips for cats:

  • Encourage your cat to follow you when you move from room to room, particularly up and down stairs.
  • Use toys to encourage your cat to play, or hide food and make him or her ‘hunt’ for it.
  • Shine a torch on walls for your cat to chase.

Exercise tips for dogs:

  • Enjoy regular walks with your dog – walking at a constant pace will help.
  • Take your dog for walks on different surfaces, such as sand or in water – this provides extra resistance.
  • Encourage play in the garden and in the home.

If your pet is overweight your vet will recommend a Prescription Diet food specially formulated for weight loss. These foods provide complete, balanced nutrition to keep your pet satisfied while loosing weight.

Checklist

  • Make an appointment for a weight check with your veterinarian, and take your pet back to the clinic for regular monitoring.
  • Only feed the food recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Divide daily food allowance into several small meals to help satisfy your pet and allow calories to be burned more quickly.
  • Instead of scraps and titbits, reward your pet with small amounts of food from the daily allowance.
  • Make sure your pet doesn’t scavenge for food.
  • Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water.
  • Increase your pets level of exercise through play and regular walking.
  • If the signs do not get better or recur, contact your veterinarian.