A Healthy and Happy New Year for your beloved Pet

Admit it - most of us overindulge a little over the Christmas and New Year period and start January with our trousers feeling a little tighter around the waist. Good intentions kick in on 2nd January as our portions decrease and the gym beckons. But what about our pampered pets?

Our recent survey revealed that 60% of respondents ply their animals with special treats over the festive period. Now we all like a little treat now and then, and it’s very tempting to give your pet scraps from the table. However, you may have done them more harm than good when you consider just one leftover slice of turkey for your cat could be the equivalent of seven slices for you!

So even pets can pile on extra pounds over Christmas and this can result in an increased risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, cancer or canine diabetes. So if you think your pet needs to shed some pounds, it’s time to do something about it – NOW!

Just like us, healthy weight-loss can be achieved by an increase in exercise and a change in diet. Follow the steps below to a happier, healthier pet:

1: Visit your vet
Your vet will examine your pet and advise you how much weight needs to be lost. He/she will also advise on a specific weight-loss programme. This will include a reduction in calories (typically to around 60% of the current intake) plus an increase in exercise. If you draw up a specific plan with your vet, make sure you follow it.

2: Calorie reduction
A good way of helping your pet to cope with a reduction in calories is to feed it frequent small portions. It will also help to feed it at the same times each day. Find a healthy, balanced food and use a measuring cup rather than guessing portion sizes. Finally, cut out all treats. Some healthier ones may be re-introduced later. It may be hard and you might feel cruel but your pet will thank you for it in the long run.

3: Get active
As with humans, regular exercise will improve your pet’s muscle tone, metabolism, and help it to lose weight.

Dogs
Regular walking is essential. If you have a small dog, start off with ¼ mile a day and work up to 1½ miles. With a large dog, start off with ½ mile and work up to two miles. Also, play ‘fetch’ or get your dog to play with its toys for at least 20 minutes a day .

Cats
Not many cats will allow you to put a lead on them and take them for a walk. However there are ways to make your cat more active. Cat trees and scratching posts are ideal. You should also try to spend about 10-15 minutes a few times each day playing with your cat although, be aware, older and obese cats are more difficult to engage. Try different toys. Once you have found something your cat is interested in you can gradually increase the time you spend playing with them.

4: The weigh-in
It’s important to track progress so weigh your cat or dog once a week to see how things are going. Let the vet weigh it once a month until it is back to a healthy weight.

So what are you waiting for? Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014 for both you and your treasured pet. 

Back to top