Obesity in Pets and top tips for weight loss
About 50% of the UK’s population of pets are overweight. Obesity can effect both short term and long term health and its important to optimise their weight for their best health!
We measure body condition score as a tool to understand if a pet’s weight is appropriate for their frame and size.
The main reason for being overweight is that the calories your pet is consuming are exceeding the calories they are burning up, so here are some useful tips to help manage calories in and measure your pet’s progress:
- Look at what you feed and how much you feed. Follow the guidelines at the back of the packet for the amount of food per day to give. It’s important to remember that there is often a large suggestion bracket in terms of how much to feed so you may need to adjust the amount depending on your pet’s weight loss progress. Every pet has a different metabolism just as humans do, and every pet has different diet needs! It is a bit hard to rely on guideline amounts if you are feeding a mix of foods together, therefore if your pet is overweight start by reducing the food by 10% and reweigh your pet every 2-4 weeks to check its progress. If there is still not weight loss you may need to reduce by a further 10%. Our nurse team are great at proving advice and tips on this, and also regarding specific weight loss diets. There are wonderfully helpful weight loss diets available, such as Royal Canin Weight Management, Hills Metabolic or Purina Obesity Management.
- Leave one person in the household in charge of feeding to ensure consistency in the routine and quantity.
- Use scales if feeding kibble to measure exact quantities. You can do this before the beginning of the week and put each meal in a zip-lock bag so you don’t have to weigh out every day during your busy week days!
- Record your dog’s weight weekly in a way the whole family can see and so you can monitor the progress of changes you make to the diet.
- Weight may not change immediately but there might still be a difference: measure your pet with a tape measure directly behind the elbows and directly in front of the knees. Make a note for future reference. Our nurse team can also do this for you.
- Put reminders around the house that your dog is on a diet.
- Remove temptation and hide away all the dog treats.
- Discourage friends, colleagues and other dog walkers from offering your dog treats
- Feed your pet in a delayed feeding device such as an activity bowl or ‘Kong’ toy, or scatter feed in the garden or on the floor. This will slow down eating and reduce the pleading eyes for more!
- Start indoor exercises to encourage further weight loss
- Remember that weight loss is more effective with dietary change than increased exercise
- If your pet is obese it may be more comfortable to exercise with hydrotherapy. Therapaws offer weight management help through hydrotherapy: www.therapaws.co.uk/Weight.html
- Out of your pets daily allowance of food, either remove a small portion to make up for additional treats you may be giving, or a good tip for kibble is divide the daily allowance into three, one portion for breakfast, one portion for dinner and the last portion as treats throughout the day – this can be really useful if you need treats through the day as part of training.