Podgy Pets: Putting Your Furry Friend on a Diet
We all like to give our pet a treat every now and then, but doing it too often could affect their health. Pet obesity is on the rise, meaning we need to be more careful when it comes to what we’re feeding them and how often.
Here at Asda Money, your pet is our priority, and we want to make sure that your cats and dogs are as healthy and happy as possible. We’ve taken a look at some of the most popular questions surrounding pet obesity, so you can learn the dos and don’ts when it comes to feeding your furry friends.
If you’re a new pet owner, it’s sometimes hard to know what the right amount of food you should be feeding them is. Choosing the type of food for your pet can also be a difficult task, as you’ll be faced with an abundance of different brands telling you that their food is the best. However, every pet is different, and what they eat all depends on size, breed and lifestyle.
The rule with dogs is pretty simple; the bigger the dog, the more food they are likely to need. According to The Nest, toy breeds such as Yorkshire terriers and chihuahuas typically require between ¼ and ¾ cups of food per day. They say that miniature and small breed dogs such as Scottish terriers and pekingese need between ¾ and 1 cup of food per day, whilst medium breed dogs such as cocker spaniels and beagles need from 1 to 2 cups. Finally, they believe that large and extra-large breeds such as labradors and retrievers, may require as much as 2 ½ cups of food per day. There’s a general rule with cats too, and the Animal Medical Centre in New York say that the active, average adult cat needs about 30 calories per pound per day, to keep a normal and healthy weight.
Young puppies should be fed at least three times a day, and by the time they are 5 or 6 months, they should only be fed twice a day. If they are gaining too much weight, gradually decrease their food, or if they look underweight, increase it. If you’re still not sure, it’s best to just check with your vet for reassurance.
If your pet is becoming overweight or obese, there are a number of health risks that they could be facing. Animals are similar to humans, in that extra weight puts more pressure on the organs, resulting in serious health conditions.
One of the most common complications of obesity in cats and dogs is diabetes. Along with this, dogs can also suffer from damage to joints, bones and ligaments, heart disease, increased blood pressure, difficulty breathing, decreased liver function, reproductive problems, skin and hair problems, and many more. As well as diabetes, overweight cats can also suffer from liver disease, arthritis, skin problems, and decreased quality and length of life.
If you’re not sure if your pet is overweight or not, there are easy ways to check. The best way to check yourself before visiting the vets, is to stand above your furry friend and look down. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. Both cats and dogs should have a nice taper at their waist, so if they’re more of an oval shape then they’re generally too heavy. A really noticeable sign of obesity in pets is if they have abdomen, hip, and neck fat, along with difficulty breathing and moving around slowly.
How to Help
If you think that your pet is already overweight, don’t worry, it’s not too late. There are plenty of ways that you can help them lose weight, giving them a longer, healthier and happier life.
A good place to start is a trip to the vets, as it’ll be good to get an expert opinion on how much your precious pooch or cute cat needs to lose (although please note routine trips to your vet are not covered by pet insurance). Using special calorie-controlled food from the vets is also an effective way of losing weight. You should also create a food diary, recording everything that your pet has to eat for a few days. This often highlights those little extras that you’re giving them without even thinking about.
Although it might feel cruel, you should start by cutting out all treats, and excess foods, especially around the Christmas period when there are lots of leftovers for grabs. To avoid hunger, it’s a good idea to divide the pet’s food into smaller, more frequent meals. Think little and often, and if you’ve got several cats or a few dogs, another tip is to feed your overweight pet separately, to avoid them from mischievously stealing any leftovers.
The obvious way to help a pet lose weight is by getting them to exercise more. This is obviously a lot more difficult with cats than it is with dogs. If you own an overweight dog, gradually start taking them on more walks, slowly increasing how far you go. You can also play hide and seek with them, hiding healthy treats around the house, meaning you’ll have them running up and down the stairs searching for more. For them to be excited about exercise, you need to be too, so talking to them in a high pitch and eager tone will make them more enthusiastic about going out. If you’ve got an overweight cat, you can dedicate a daily playtime, so your cat can enjoy time chasing a ball or exploring a climbing and stretching tower.
If you’re worried about your dog or cat’s health, we recommend having a look at the different types of pet insurance available. Here at Asda Money we have a range of pet insurance cover types available. Find out more about Asda Money Pet Insurance here. Pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.