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One in three dogs and one in four cats in the UK is overweight, and this figure is on the rise. Statistics from the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report show that 80% of veterinary professionals believe there will be more overweight pets than healthy weight pets within five years and that 81% of vets have seen an increase in pet obesity over the last two years.

Here at White Cross Vets, we held more than 4,000 free weight clinics in 2014, and it is likely that significantly more go untreated.

Obesity can cause a range of different health problems in pets, including osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It can also shorten their life. It is therefore important to maintain a healthy weight: your vet can advise on the healthy weight range for your pet.

Nutrition advice for pets

Many owners overfeed their pets, often through kindness. According to the PAW Report, over 5.5 million pets are given treats as part of their daily diet, including cake, crisps and takeaways. New research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) also reveals that nearly half (48%) of owners are feeding pets treats more than twice a day and one in three (36%) pet owners are giving human food as a treat, which is often unsuitable for their digestive system.

Find out how to feed your pet a nutritionally balanced complete diet.

Exercise advice for pets

As well as over-feeding, lack of exercise is the main cause of obesity in pets. Regular exercise helps your pet to maintain a healthy weight, sleep better and lead a happier life in general.

Find out more about how much exercise your pet should be getting.

FREE weight clinics for pets

If you have concerns about your pet’s weight, you should pop into your local veterinary practice. White Cross Vets offers free weight clinics for all four-legged pets. We will weight and examine your pet, then offer tailored diet and exercise advice to help your pet achieve their perfect weight.

Find out more about free weight clinics for pets at White Cross Vets.

Some simple tips to get your pet moving more and eating less

White Cross Vets recommends Hills Pet Nutrition pet food. Hills gives pet owners the following advice on helping their pets to maintain a healthy weight.

  1. Be observant. Keep an eye on what your pet is eating. Sneaky feeds from the family can help your pet pile on the pounds. Apart from letting your family (especially the kids) know what human foods are dangerous to your pet, like chocolate, raisins and onions. Giving them a heads up on the weight your pet can easily gain if overfed during the course of the day, will help them curb the habit.
  2. Get them moving. In summer, it is easy and enjoyable to spend time outside. Winter weather can be cold and unwelcoming, but don’t let the cold scare you back inside. Having longer walks, or playing in the park for a couple more minutes helps you both burn off a few extra calories! Give your dog even more exercise by joining BorrowMyDoggy, the UK’s most active community of dog lovers with over 500,000 members. You can connect with like minded people in your area who’d love to take your dog for extra walks and games of fetch.
  3. Watch those numbers. It isn’t as tedious as it sounds. If your furry friend is eating a full daily calorie allowance in kibbles, plus getting another round of calories in treats, snacks and goodies, it ends up being too much food. By simply adjusting amounts as needed, can be one of the simple fixes you use to help manage your pet’s weight loss.
  4. Measure those portions. When it comes to food, try to measure the correct amount of daily kibbles according to the package instructions, size, age and lifestyle. If they are a bit on the chubby side, just measure out slightly less. Instead of feeding it all at once, break it up into breakfast, dinner and post play treats or treats here and there. They won’t even notice your managing their food portion.
  5. Attention doesn’t mean feed them. Just because they look like they’re begging for your food, doesn’t mean they want it. Most of the time, your pet just really wants your tender loving care and attention. So instead of giving your pet some of your dinner (especially if they have just been fed) try a pat on the belly, or scratch behind the ear. Even a little indoor playtime wouldn’t hurt.

To discuss pet weight management in more detail, contact your local practice.

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