Obesity in your pet can lead to many serious diseases including diabetes, musculoskeletal problems, liver disease, and breathing problems, all of which can compromise their quality and length of life.
Although age and breed can contribute to obesity, we humans are in control of many of the other main causes of obesity in our pets. These include the amount of activity they undertake, and the type and volume of food they consume.
Ways to prevent obesity include:
- Feeding your pet smaller amounts of food twice a day, to deter bingeing
- Setting structured feeding times so your pet learns when to expect food
- Choosing foods that are high in fibre, as they provide bulk and a feeling of fullness without added calories
- Choosing high quality, well balanced diets or veterinary weight loss diets, as low quality foods are linked to obesity
- Decreasing the amount of regular food you give your pet if you provide them with a treat
- Ensuring they get plenty of regular exercise
- Distracting a begging dog with attention, for example by grooming or interactive play, as some dogs learn to demand attention by demanding food.
If you have an animal that is hungry all the time, some tips for increasing the length of feeding time, without increasing the amount of food given include:
- Using slow feeding bowls
- Putting an upside down small bowl in a larger bowl so the animal has to maneuver around it to get their food
- Putting food in Kongs
- Using treat balls or toys to dispense kibble.
There is no problem with still giving your pet the occasional treat, just make it a healthy one such as:
- Raw fruit or vegetables like carrots, broccoli, apples, cucumbers and watermelon
- Dental treats like Greenies which have the added benefit of maintaining dental health.
If you need guidance to get started, book your pet in for a weight management consult with your vet and get your pet on the path to a healthier, happier life.
Chian Ee June Guai, 2017 Veterinary Graduate, University of Sydney