Pet obesity - what you can do

How to deal with pet obesityPic: Getty

Pet obesity is becoming a real problem in the UK, with a recent report, Pet Obesity: Five Years On, suggesting that almost half of all animals taken to the vet are considered overweight.

In a survey of 1,000 owners, more than two-thirds of pet owners ignore guidance on how much to feed their animals, despite 93 per cent saying they would be concerned to find that their pet was overweight.

The truth is, while your fat cat or cuddly canine will undoubtedly enjoy all those extra little treats, obese pets, like humans, are at risk of developing serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, so if your pet is looking porky, here's how to tackle the problem.

A good quality complete food is a great way to ensure your pet is getting all the nutrients they need, and also helping you to feed the right amount. Any vet or knowledgeable pet shop assistant will be able to offer you advice on what to look for in a complete food, and all brands offer guidelines as to how much to feed daily based on your pet's size.

Raw food and homemade diets are becoming increasingly popular these days, but it can be tricky to make sure your animal is getting exactly what he or she needs from their diet. That's not to say you should rule it out, but do your homework and seek advice before switching.

Most pets are more than capable of resorting to a desperate meow or puppy dog eyes to persuade their owners that there's a rumble in their tummy, but don't be fooled. According to the PDSA, 98 per cent of owners give their dog treats, and 42 per cent of those daily. Add them all up, and it's easy to see why the nation's pets have expanding waistlines.

Avoid giving treats on a frequent basis - rather use them to occupy your dog or cat, whether that's through one of the multitude of toys that encourage cats and dogs to 'work' for their feed, or through training your pet pooch to do a new trick.

It is essential for animals to get regular exercise, an activity that's not only enjoyable for your pet, but also keeps them fit and well. Try to set a regular time to walk your dog, and vary his or her exercise with simple walks, going for a run, or playing games like fetch. If your hound is already very overweight though, do take things slowly to begin with, or seek advice from your vet about getting that weight off.

Exercising cats might seem like more of a challenge, but setting aside time to play with your moggie will help to get him up and about, instead of lounging around. Again, try toys that require the cat to work harder to get at food, or look for a toy that he can chase or pounce on.

Is your pet obese?
The chances are your pet gets an annual vet check along with his or her vaccinations, and most vets will certainly point out if your pet has a weight problem. But it's important that you're aware of how a healthy dog or cat should look so that you can make changes if they start to get chubby.

For instance, being able to feel the ribs, backbone and hipbones of your dog is no bad thing. Though they shouldn't be prominent (in most breeds), they shouldn't be covered by a layer of fat. Looking down at your pet from above is a good way to see if he's in good shape, as you should be able to see a waist. If you think your pet might be on the tubby side, your vet will be only too happy to check, and to offer advice on how to get him or her back on track.

Have you managed to get your fat pet fit? Leave your comments below...