Source: Liverpool Echo (Extract)
Posted: August 21, 2021

Urgent warning that over half of all dogs in the UK are obese.

It’s no secret that it’s much harder to stay in shape over summer than at any point during the year.

With restaurants and pubs back open and functioning normally after lockdown, many of us have been taking full advantage.

Keeping the waistline in check during lockdown wasn’t particularly easy either with gyms closed and comfort eating (and drinking) a handy alternative.

But it seems packing on the pounds isn’t an issue that’s just affecting the UK, it’s also affecting our household pets.

Research has shown over half of all dogs in the UK are obese with fears they could live two years less than healthier dogs.

Alarmingly, over 600,000 more UK pets are overweight or obese and at risk of living two years less than a healthy fit pet.

A report from Burgess Pet Care, conducted with pet scales manufacturer Marsden, revealed that 76% of pet owners do not know or are unsure about the ideal weight range for their pet.

Burgess in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes said: “When it comes to managing pet obesity, knowledge is key. From identifying that your pet is overweight to understanding what constitutes a healthy diet to portion control and ensuring they have the right amount of exercise.

“This is where your vet can help. Many practices have weight management clinics and your vet will be able to provide you with expert advice, practical tips and support.

“Very overweight pets will require an individual vet-devised weight loss programme. This may take several months before your pet reaches their ideal body condition.”

She added: “Ensuring your pet has an active lifestyle with lots of walks and playtime is good for both their physical and mental health.

“However, the Blue Cross advises that increasing exercise alone is not enough to help your pets lose weight, but it is helpful.

“Start gradually, and be especially careful with elderly pets, particularly in hot weather. Older pets should see the vet first. Little and often is the safest way to start.

“Try to take your dog out at least twice a day and start to introduce active games – ambling down the road on a lead is not going to burn off many calories.

Increase the activity level at home as well. Buy toys in which you can hide food but remember to deduct the ‘treat’ from the daily food allowance.”

The RSPCA has warned that obesity is a ‘serious welfare issue’ that can cause suffering and be extremely disabling for pets.

A spokesperson said: “Pet obesity can also cause serious health problems, and make existing problems worse, which can reduce the length and quality of your pet’s life.”

How to tell if your pet is overweight

  • You should be able to see and feel the outline of your dog’s ribs and your cat’s spine and hip bones without excess fat covering.
  • You should be able to see and feel your dog’s waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above.
  • Your dog’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side, while your cat’s belly shouldn’t be sagging underneath with only a small amount of fat.
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