Get Your Pet Fit, Not Fat

By Sarah Fields

Fat pets are hitting the headlines more and more often recently and with Animal Welfare charities such as the RSPCA beginning to intervene is it a case of the ‘nanny state’ for our pets or is obesity in cats and dogs becoming a real problem? The answer seems to be yes. Our pets are getting fatter just like us and a whopping 76% of veterinary practices now have ‘fat clinics’ for pets. It is estimated anywhere between 30-60% of all dogs and cats in the UK are overweight.

So what has caused this rise in our pets waistlines? The RSPCA blames owners for over-feeding their pets, giving them an incorrect diet and failing to provide enough exercise. Some blame it on our modern lifestyle fast living with little time for exercise and healthy eating for ourselves let alone our pets. Whoever the blame lies with the reasons for having a fat pet are still the same – our pets are becoming fat for the same reasons we are.

Obesity can have much the same devastating effect on our pet’s health as it can in ours:

high blood pressure
fatty liver
heat intolerance leading to a higher risk of heat stroke during hot weather
skin problems
increase risk of problems during anesthesia and increased risk of wound infections
increased risk of diabetes mellitus

So in our busy, hectic life what can we do to help keep our pet’s fit and at a healthy weight? Quite a lot actually and it needn’t be a chore. One of the best ways is to remember why you have a dog in the first place – company and fun! Dogs are fantastic stress busters and a good play session will do both you, your pet and other members of your family a power of good. Don’t see walking the dog as one family members responsibility – make it a family event.

Take some time out after the evening meal and go to the park or field with your dog and the entire family. Take an interactive toy such as a dog Frisbee or launch-a-ball that even the youngest can use. It doesn’t matter how far a Frisbee is thrown, your dog will love it just the same!

Keep treats to a minimum – if you do want to give treats keep them low calorie such as Coachies Treats at one calorie per treat or substitute with a tasty Bravo Chew – great for hours of chewing but not highly digestible so it won’t go on your dog’s waistline.

For evenings when you are short on time a Dog Agility Starter Kit is great fun for your dog and children and can be played in your garden. There’s nowhere more convenient than your own back yard but you can still burn up some calories having fun and it’s a great way to improve your dog’s obedience and your children’s interactivity with the family dog.

Even if you are short on time during the week half an hours energetic play is better than none at all and you can always make a day of it at the weekend. Go out armed with a healthy picnic, kit the car out so your dog can travel safely, a car guard is inexpensive but vital, and take a travel pack for your dog with a meal preprepared so you aren’t tempted to feed him too many tidbits from your picnic. Plan the trip the week before so everybody is looking forward to it – it is hard to disappoint your children and make excuses that you are too tired and need a lie in when they are expecting a day out!

Remember – have fun!! – you can do all the things you used to enjoy as a child when you have children and a dog as an excuse – play on swings, paddle in the sea, play Frisbee, make sandcastles, run and shout without getting odd looks! In today’s busy world we all need a way of letting off steam – and a dog is a great excuse – you’ll feel look fitter and feel fitter, although somewhat more tired, but at least you will all sleep well!!

Sarah Fields – For a wide range of dog toys to help you and your pet stay happy and healthy

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