Britain is reputedly a nation of pet lovers but are we killing our pets with kindness? There are an estimated 4 ½ million pets in the UK that are overweight with 1 in 3 dogs and 1 in 4 cats all carrying too much around their middles.

With the World Health Organisation suggesting that by the year 2020 nearly ¾ of the British population will be obese or morbidly obese it’s little wonder that with our bad diets and lazy lifestyles, that our pets will be on the receiving end of the rubbish foods we eat.  Diets of fast food, take aways, fry ups and Sunday roasts do your pets absolutely no favours at all.

For a dog, 1 cube of cheese is equal to a human eating 1 ½ hamburgers or for a cat, eating a whole pizza!  In fact, you can be sure that all the foods that are not good for our health will not be good for our pets, either.

It’s hard to resist those big brown eyes looking imploringly at us while we tuck into our dinner but resist we must.  All the major health problems that affect overweight people affect cats and dogs also.  It’s certainly not funny seeing a large cat or dog trying to walk with his belly sweeping the garden path and his heart will be working overtime as he struggles to breathe.

It’s imperative to get veterinary advice BEFORE putting your cat or dog on a diet and withholding food is not the way to go.  Your cat will just find a willing neighbour to give him some dinner.  Gradually reducing portion sizes and feeding the right type of food for the age of your cat will see those pounds slowly coming off and a waistline emerging.  Getting a light version of a food is a good idea too, as there are less fats and sugars in it; try this one from Arden Grange which is a best-selling item with www.swellpets.co.uk

Don’t forget to check the feeding guidelines to ensure you are giving your pet the right amount of food for his age and size.

Remember: human food is for humans; cat food is for cats and dog food is for dogs.  An occasional – and I stress ‘occasional’ – treat is allowable but not every day and not of the unhealthy kind. Incorporating acceptable treats as part of your pet’s daily diet will help him feel that he isn’t missing out too much.

As Britons becomes lazier in their leisure habits, that reflects on the activity levels in their pets with most dogs never going out for long walks with their owners, having to make use of the back garden instead.  That’s all well and good but not only is going on a long walk good for a dog, but its good exercise for its owner also.  

Obi the dachshund was so overweight that his stomach dragged along the floor as he walked, causing him discomfort and chafing. He was taken into care when his elderly owners couldn’t look after him any more due to their own health problems but they had almost killed him with kindness giving him all manner of very unhealthy treats.   He was put on a strict diet and lost a staggering 50lbs of weight, requiring a doggy tummy tuck to rid him of the loose sagging skin that hung below his new svelte figure.  An amazing 2 ½ pounds of excess skin were removed and now he is back to how a dachshund should look.  For more information on his story and weight loss journey click here:

Obi

Casey ignoring his food puzzle If you do have a greedy pet there are many pet feeding puzzles available to make your pet work for his treats.  I made Casey one out of the inner tubes of toilet paper and stuck them all together.  I put dried cat treats into the tubes and when Casey felt like a treat he had to put his paw into the tubes and pull the treats out.   It took him a little while to figure out what he needed to do but he soon cottoned on and he enjoyed his mental work out as well as honing his agility skills.

If your cat doesn’t go outside, set up an indoor obstacle course with various items of furniture, cardboard boxes, large cardboard tubes and encourage him to do a couple of circuits with you cheering him on.  You can encourage his progress by putting a few treats in some of the boxes/tubes but remember to count them in with his overall daily allowance.   This also works for small dogs but if you have a larger dog, you can easily set up an agility course outside in your garden.  You could try it with a more adventurous cat but don’t be surprised if he gives you a glare and walks off.  He may do it when he feels like it and certainly not when you’re watching!

Outdoor cats get more exercise because they climb up walls and trees and stretch out up tree trunks to strafe their claws.  Chasing prey or pouncing on fallen leaves all helps to burn calories but you can add to their exercise by using fishing rod type toys either in the house or the garden for them to run and chase after.  There are many toys available with which to interact with your cat helping him burn off those surplus calories.

There is no excuse for bad eating habits either with us humans or with our companion animals.  There is so much information ‘out there’ giving guidelines of the right nutrition and exercise that it’s criminal to allow our pets to get into such unhealthy conditions.

Overfeeding a pet is almost as bad as neglecting your pet – both are forms of abuse and in the UK children that are obese have been taken away from their parents and placed in foster care for their safety and well-being.  There are many ways to show your love for your pet without using food.  Spending quality time with your pet, playing with him, talking to him, grooming him – all demonstrate that you love him.

Following these simple suggestions could mean that you get to enjoy your pet for many more years – and that’s no bad thing, is it?  Pauline Dewberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Cat is Company

"One cat is company.
Two cats are a conspiracy. 
Three cats is an attempted takeover.
Four or more cats is a complete coup!"

Shona Steele (Australia)

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