What to do when pets pack on the pounds

Image supplied.
Image supplied.

Here’s how minor bad habits can lead to major health problemsPLUS get your Hills Pet Nutrition voucher to help you

Is your fur baby too “chonky”? The word chonky is popular internet slang for chunky animals. They’re adorably round, pudgy, and oh-so snuggly. But did you know those extra snacks could make your pet ill – or shorten their lives?

October is Pet Obesity Month and Hill’s Pet Nutrition wants to highlight the importance of keeping tabs on your pet’s weight.

While it may seem cute to have a cuddly fur baby, there are a few things pet parents need to look out for. A little extra weight could lead to major health problems – so it’s bigger than just “puppy fat” and will spare you extra vet bills. Pet obesity can lead to diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and respiratory distress.

And did you know nearly half of pets in SA are overweight? Obesity remains the number one health problem of local pets – and it’s also a major global health problem.

Marycke Ackhurst, pet vehaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, says that after months of lockdown many pets are a little heavier than they should be. For many this would’ve been as a result of less activity, increased stress and indulgent eating as we were all faced with a “new normal”.  So, here’s to making a change!

Why does it matter if your pet is overweight?

  • Obese dogs and cats aren’t as happy and active as other pets – and live shorter lives.
  • Even as little as 20% extra body weight can increase the risk of serious conditions.

Many pet owners don’t realise that some treats can be unhealthy and that all those little bits here and there add up. Certain breeds also have a higher health risk, which increases with age.

Hills pets
Image supplied

Top tips to keeping your pet happy and healthy:

  • Want to do a quick test? Being able to feel your pet’s ribs without pressure is the most important guideline. It should feel similar to running your hand over your slightly arched knuckles.
  • Check your pet’s body condition score on a regular basis and adjust feeding accordingly. Pet parents can visit PetSlimmer.co.za.
  • Remember, the feeding amount on the pet food packaging is merely a guideline. Each pet is different and therefore their food allowance may differ. Lifestyle, age and health all play a role in the amount of food your pet should be consuming. Chat to your vet or here for a guide.
  • Note, when pets are sterilised, their food intake needs to be adjusted, as they have a reduction in their energy levels. Similarly, when pets get older and become less active, their energy needs also lessen and so should their food intake.
  • Daily activity is important – whether it be a walk, playing in the garden or an activity that uses your pet’s brain to burn pent-up energy.
  • Let your pet “work” for their food. Either the entire, or at least half of their daily food consumption. You could use treat balls, puzzles or even games such as hide and seek where the owner hides the food in different locations and the pet needs to find it. “Remember to start on a very easy level and then to increase the level of difficulty as your pet grasps the concept. If you start out on a difficult level your pet may get frustrated and give up,” advises Ackhurst.

If your pet is overweight you can try Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic, the #1 weight loss food for pets in SA. Download a coupon to save 25% – simply click here.- Ts & Cs apply!

For more information visit the Hill’s Pet Slimmer website.

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