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Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders in our pets today.

Over 60% of our canine companions and 40% of our feline friends suffer from obesity.  Obesity is due to excessive energy intake (in the form of food treats and snacks) and insufficient energy expenditure (exercise).


There are the four main contributing factors

in your pet’s overweight or obese conditions:

  • Over eating

  • Poor quality or incorrect food

  • Insufficient exercise

  • Medical conditions (such as Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism)


How do I know if my pet is overweight?

Because dogs and cats come in all shapes and sizes, it is not a case of generalised weight bracket. Instead, looking and feeling along the animal and determine whether or not it is healthily proportioned. In dogs this is assessed by running your hands firmly down the animal’s spine and down slightly along its sides. There should be a thin layer of fat over the bones, but they should not be easily seen. The plane of the sides should indent after the ribcage and flare out slightly once again at the hips. Looking from the side the abdomen should tuck upwards from the ribcage. In cats, the process is generally the same but it must be acknowledged that fat often hangs around the groin and belly area. Therefore after feeling the ribs and spine, the abdomen should be checked for any pouches of fat buildup. The body condition table below should visually aid you to understand the process and what to look for.


Why does it matter if my pet is overweight?

Being overweight is detrimental to your pet’s health. Obesity can predispose animals to the following medical conditions:

  • Diabetes

  • Cardiovascular disorders

  • Pancreatitis

  • Respiratory distress

  • Arthritis

  • High blood pressure

  • Digestive disorders

  • Skin diseases

  • Liver disease

  • Heat stress

  • Musculoskeletal diseases

  • Increased risk during surgery and anaesthesia

Generally, obese animals will have shorter life spans and more uncomfortable lives than pets which are at optimum body condition. Unfortunately, there is no telling in which way individual animals will be affected, and disorders may only be treated as they come. Fortunately, with a bit of hard work and dedication, a healthy bodyweight can be achieved.


How Do I Go About Resolving My Pet’s Weight Issues?

For anyone who has tried to shed just a few kilos, the process can seem almost an impossible feat to achieve. However, it is much easier for our domesticated pets than it is for us. The secret is not in metabolism, or to do with their genetic make-up. It is as simple as the fact that we control what access to food the animal has and when they are able to exercise.

As pet owners we can determine what type of food, the quantity and when it will be available to the animal via their food bowl. We can also stimulate them with toys and entice them to exercise more readily than any gym trainer.

Chancellor Park Veterinary Surgery is very enthusiastic about promoting a healthy lifestyle for our furry companions. In 2009 we established the “Hairy Health Club”. The club is all about maintaining healthy weights, keeping active and helping owners with nutrition advice for their animals.

We also run a nutritionally balanced weight loss club, following the instruction of Royal Canin Pet Nutrition. In this way, through good diet and exercise we aim to help your pet shed 15% of its body weight. For dogs this is undertaken in a 15 week period, and cats take slightly longer, the course finished at the 18 week mark. In this manner the pet can lose weight healthily and gradually.

The course involves fortnightly weigh-ins, and lots of bonuses for excelling students. For more information concerning course dates and health information, please contact the clinic and speak to one of our friendly veterinary nurses.


Helpful healthy weight loss hints:

  • Make sure that the whole family is on the same page regarding your pet’s feeding habits. Ideally, one person should be in charge of the feeding. This way it is known how food the animal actually has access to. Also speak clearly amongst family members and ensure no more table scraps are to ‘accidentally’ fall from the table at meal times!

  •  We all love to give our pets tasty treats; it’s the most common show of affection amongst pet owners. Just because your pet’s diet has been restricted to his or her main meals, does not mean they can never have a little snack in between as a reward for good behaviour. It is important that these treats come out of the animals’ overall daily intake. In other words, if the pet received several treats throughout the course of the day, the nighttime meal would be reduced to reflect the amount eaten during the day.

  • Research has shown that most people are more likely to attend a gym when they enroll with a friend. Now, think of that best friend of yours, waiting patiently at the gate each day. Dogs are genetically meant to be active creatures. They need stimulation and exercise to maintain both their mental and physical health. Your canine companion will always be more than happy to accompany you on a daily 30minute walk or run. Just remember to visit to check which areas are dog friendly in your neighbourhood.

  • Cats. Quite often found sleeping or parading around like the regal kings and queens of the household, it doesn’t seem as though they can be ordered to do anything, let along exercise. This is why the pet owner must adopt a sneaky approach to keep their cat fit. Introducing a new toy into your cat’s kingdom is a marvelous way to entertain them. Cat wands (the stick which has a soft toy attached to it by a stretchy cord) are fun, interactive toys that can be used to play with your cat. Scratching poles, outdoor enclosures, and simple toys scattered in areas they frequent are all useful means to keep your cat active.

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