PDSA, the UK’s leading veterinary charity, speak out on pet obesity. The veterinarian organisation claims that thousands of dogs, cats and rabbits risk an early death due to an “obesity time bomb.” Owners who feed unhealthy foods to their pets such as takeaways, crisps and cakes, coupled with giving them little or no exercise, risk their pets suffering from problems such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease which in turn leads to an early death.
PDSA vet Elaine Pendlebury says as well as posing major health risks, pet obesity also means “daily misery” for millions of animals. “Vet practices across the UK see the consequences of pet obesity every single day such as obese dogs unable to enjoy regular walks due to exhaustion, fat cats that can’t jump or play, and rabbits so hopelessly overweight they can’t clean themselves properly.”
With the launch of their annual Pet Fit Club, where PDSA aim to find the fattest pets in the UK and help them get fit, we reveal a few facts on nutrition for your dog and cat, as well as the benefits of jogging with your dog.
Nutritional Tips For Your Dog:
1. Think you are spoiling your pooch by freshly-preparing food at home? Take note that you are rarely able to achieve the kind of nutritional balance provided by commercial foods.
2. Dry, moist, fresh or tinned food? In terms of nutritional value the difference is only slight; it is simply a matter of convenience and your dog’s preference. Nutritional content will vary considerably however in some of the less well known pet-foods.
3. Dogs should drink about an ounce of water per pound of their body weight daily and always ensure that you provide daily fresh water.
4. Avoid obesity by not leaving food available for ‘ab lib’ feeding; if your dog is not interested in its food, remove it and try later.
5. Dogs regulate their own intake of water, so if you notice a change in their drinking habits see your vet as this may indicate health problems.
Nutritional Tips For Your Cat:
1. The smell and texture of food are all important factors for a cat’s appetite, and in particular they respond well to meat derived smells and tastes.
2. If your cat is home alone most days don’t worry about leaving food out for them. Cats tend to control their daily food intake and have multiple ‘snacks’ rather than one large meal. Providing that the amount of food they receive does not regularly exceed their daily requirement, leaving food out for your cat is fine, especially if it is a drier formulation.
3. The popular belief that cats need milk as a supply of calcium is untrue; not all cats, especially Siamese and Siamese-crosses, will drink milk and others can develop diarrhoea because of lactose-intolerance.
4. We all do it. But giving our pets treats should be done in moderation and should represent 5% or less of a cat’s daily food intake.
5. Cats enjoy variation in their diet and are able to tolerate this better than dogs although they may be less enthusiastic about diets that are lacking in key nutritional components.
– Jogging helps to strengthens muscles, ligaments and bones and in turn reduces the risks of injury.
– Encourages a healthier digestive system.
– Running is what dogs should be doing and it is a great way of ensuring weight loss in a way that’s healthy and sustainable.
– Running with your dog can help to improve behaviour and discipline as they use up excess (and occasionally destructive) energy.
The Vet says…
Avoid prolonged running exercise for young dogs – dogs’ bones are not usually mature until they are 9 – 10 months of age (less for smaller breeds, longer for large breeds).
Some breeds (e.g. Malamutes, Dalmatians) have been bred to cope easily with running long distances but other breeds (e.g. toy breed, short-nosed dogs) aren’t suited.
Get advice from your vet first if your dog has medical problems e.g. heart disease.