There are many plus points with being able to spend all day at home with your pet, but that can come with some drawbacks too. While many of us have been working from home, furloughed, or self-isolating, our animals have been getting a lot of extra attention – and some extra portions too.
Louise Mathews, a registered veterinary nurse with Paragon Veterinary Group, said: “Animal obesity is a big topic right now at Paragon, we’ve seen many overweight cats, dogs and even rabbits.
“Some people have clearly been over-feeding their pets, which is wasting their feed and money as well as creating problems. Sometimes they might prefer to give their pet scraps that would normally go in the bin, but this is not good for them.
“Doing this can lead to weight gain but also painful conditions like pancreatitis. It is important for pets to maintain a healthy weight to prevent diabetes, heart disease, dental disease. Being overweight can add extra pressure on their joints worsening arthritic conditions. Overweight pets struggle more during warmer days, are unable to groom themselves and the excess fat is covering all their organs.”
The biggest cause of animal obesity are over-feeding, poor diet and lack of exercise particularly with dogs.
Louise continued: “Treats may seem small and unlikely to be too harmful to a pet, but they should always be given in moderation. “For example, one rawhide bone would be the equivalent of us eating seven chocolate-topped doughnuts with sprinkles! It’s far too much in one go, and they are not working all these extra calories off! Some pets are given treats like that multiple times a day.
“Paragon offers nursing clinics that focus on weight-management and getting your pet back to their ideal weight based on their breed and done over time safely as possible.
“Vets and nurses automatically look at pets and begin to assess their body condition score. This can be done by everyone by looking at your dog or cat. Can you easily feel their ribs? Looking over them, do they curve inwards at the hips? Look under them, do they curve nicely, or do they have a swinging belly?
“Since we have been allowed to resume vaccination appointments, we have seen many animals and most of their weights have been different. The losses have either been due to their owners being able to get them a lot more exercise during the pandemic lockdown, or weight loss due to illness.
“We have advised and encouraged several owners to change their pet’s diet on to one where they feel fuller and have the owners cut out the added extras.”