Albany Blog

Weight a minute!

By October 14, 2022No Comments

A healthy weight decreases your pet’s risk of weight-related health issues such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease; carrying even a little extra weight can affect your pet’s quality of life.

Here we will look at healthy body condition, how to maintain your pet in good shape and what to do if the weight is creeping on!

 

How can we tell if our pets are in good shape?

 

The weighing scales aren’t the only judge, body shapes and sizes vary between breeds but there are some common visual indicators of an ideal body condition.

 

In dogs we look for:

Ribs that can be easily felt with a minimal covering of fat

A waist that is easily visible from above

An upward slant after the ribcage, this is known as an ‘abdominal tuck’

In cats we look for:

A well-proportioned body

Ribs which are not visible, but can easily be felt

An obvious waist

A minimal to small amount of abdominal fat

A slight abdominal tuck

 

How can we maintain our pets’ healthy weight?

 

Nutrition

Feed your pet a suitable, nutritionally complete, well-balanced food.

Measure your pet’s daily allowance (according to the manufacturer’s guidelines), using scales for accuracy.

Reserve an amount of your pet’s allowance for treats throughout the day. This will allow you to treat your pet without exceeding their recommended daily intake.

Make mealtimes fun! – use puzzle feeders or scatter dry kibble to allow your pet to use their natural foraging skills.

Feed your pet before having your own meal to lessen their urge to beg at your mealtimes. Don’t feed scraps. If you really want to offer human food, go for a low-calorie option such as carrot.

 

Exercise

 

Exercise is so important; it not only aids weight control but is also good for joint mobility, muscle strength, mental stimulation and general wellbeing.

For dogs

Regular walks on a variety of surfaces – sand or shallow water provide extra resistance and boost fitness.

Swimming or hydrotherapy.

Games with toys – rotate the toys regularly to keep your dog interested in them.

Seeking activities – hide toys or kibble (from their daily allowance) for your dog to seek out, this is both physically and mentally rewarding for your dog.

Agility classes.

 

For dogs with joint and mobility problems, care should be taken to adapt their exercise. Advice on modifying exercise for your dog can be found here.

For cats

Cats are naturally active in short bursts. If your cat is a healthy weight, enjoys time roaming outdoors and is generally active, you may not need to encourage her to exercise. If she is less active or doesn’t have access to the outdoors, you may need to introduce her to exercise.

Vary where you feed your cat, or her hide her food so that she has to hunt for it.

Toys – there are lots of different options designed to entertain and exercise your cat.

Puzzle feeders – these combine food and exercise! Good for mental stimulation too.

Introduce places for them to explore – cardboard boxes can be good fun!

 

How can we help our overweight pets?

If you are concerned about your pet’s body condition, follow these steps:

Check that you’re feeding your pet the correct amount (remember we mentioned the importance of accurately weighing out your pet’s recommended daily allowance). For overweight pets, feed the recommended daily amount for their ideal, not actual, weight. Don’t just randomly restrict your pet’s food.

Increase exercise.

Cut out the extra treats and human foods.

Involve the whole household – everyone needs to commit to the weight loss plan.

You should soon begin to see results; if you’re struggling, talk to your veterinary nurses. They will be able to advise on specially formulated, nutritionally balanced foods to aid safe weight loss whilst keeping your pet feeling satisfied between meals. They can also tailor and support you through a weight loss plan specifically for your pet to enable a safe, controlled weight loss.