Pet obesity mirrors a growing epidemic amongst humans. It is now estimated up to a quarter of cats and half of our dogs in U.K are now classed as obese. Obesity is closely linked with diabetes, so once weight is tackled diabetes can be controlled too, in many cases.
It really is our responsibility, as pet owners, to control what our cats and dogs eat. Feeding food with little nutritional value can leave your dog or cat feeling hungry and begging for more, leading to over eating or nutritional deficiency.
Some foods may contain sugars as a preservative and a flavour enhancer and offer only empty calories. Treats and over-feeding are, all too often, the big offenders. We know it can be tempting to give into big soppy doggy eyes but over feeding your dog does not equal love.
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What the Nutritionist says
“A good quality food or a raw food diet (BARF) is a great way to control calories. When you feed a better diet your pet requires less food due to nutrient density, therefore helping to maintain weight in a way they can metabolically process with ease. Inappropriate foods and overfeeding are not always the culprit for weight gain but also nutrient deficiency and autoimmune disease.
Always look at the quality of your pet’s food and think about filing in nutritional shortfalls by adding in high quality wholefoods and supplements.”
What the vet says
“Obesity in pets in on the rise. Consequent diseases are diabetes, hormonal disorders and arthritis. Obesity is not linked with heart disease and strokes in the same way as with atherosclerosis in humans because dog and cat metabolism is slightly different.
Obesity is avoidable in 99% of dog and cat cases and is due mostly to more calories eaten than spent in exercise. Dogs must be exercised maximally according to their breed and age. There are also massive behavioural benefits from plenty of exercise.
Controlling calorie intake is possible with processed (‘Light’ or ‘Diet’) foods.
Calorie control is much easier with a home made balanced diet, low in grains and high in vegetables and cats should not eat grains in my opinion.
If in doubt as to your pet’s proper weight, speak to your vet.”
• Clean filtered water should be available at all times.
• Walks and active games should be maximized for dogs. At least two good walks a day. Little and often is ideal.
• If you cat is willing create a playtime with toys or try organic catnip.
• Do not give junk food treats. Go for healthier options such as carrot sticks and broccoli stalks for dogs.