More and more pets in the UK are struggling with the health problems caused by obesity.
Obese pets have a reduced quality of life. They are less willing to play and exercise, and many go on to develop medical conditions linked to their weight. Every day, vets see overweight pets suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, urinary tract disease and arthritis.
Pets with conditions like these die younger which is often heartbreaking for their owners.
PDSA is committed to raising awareness of the rising problem of pet obesity for the benefit of our pets and their owners.
We are also committed to providing pet-owners with the information you need to help your pets stay a healthy shape and weight.
It’s best to stick to a commercial pet food as recommended by your vet. Home-made diets are an option, but it’s difficult to make sure these contain the right amount and types of nutrients for pets.
Avoid treats and overfeeding. PDSA research shows that 98% of owners give their dog treats with 42% giving treats daily – which is not good news for pets’ waistlines.
The rule is the same as it is for humans; too much food and lack of exercise equals weight gain.
Commercial pet food will have feeding guidelines on the packet. Follow these guidelines and weigh the food to check you’re giving the right amount. Measuring food will ensure you’re not over or under feeding. If you’re unsure ask your vet for advice.
Regular exercise is good for both you and your pet.
There are lots of ways to exercise pets besides walking. Dogs enjoy running and playing games like ‘fetch’ so mix things up and vary the types of exercise. Throwing sticks is not recommended however, as vets see many casualties where sticks have been swallowed or become stuck in dogs’ mouths.
House cats definitely need an exercise plan as it’s all too easy for them to get into a routine of eating, napping and little else in between. Owners should set time aside to play with house cats regularly to ensure they get enough exercise and encourage them to ‘work’ for their food using toys that release food when pushed around. Outdoor cats should get plenty of exercise when out and about, but this is not always the case, so owners should encourage them to exercise through play. The best toys are those that encourage chasing and pouncing, such as fishing rod-type toys.
Keep an eye on your pet’s shape. It might sound simple, but because we see our pets everyday, it’s easy to grow accustomed to their shape and not notice those excess inches creeping on over time. There’s a real misconception about what a healthy shape is and increasingly a ‘tubby’ pet is viewed as normal.
Pets come in all different shapes and sizes depending on their species and breed, but in general, they should be sporting a sleek silhouette rather than a flabby tum!
The shape of our pets is an excellent sign of whether they’re a healthy weight, and it’s something that all pet owners can check at home. The veterinary term for this is “body condition scoring”.
Download our new Body Condition Scoring leaflet (PDF - 424 KB) which gives great advice on how you can check your dog's weight and body shape. There are also useful posters to download which you can use to assess the shape of your dog (PDF - 410 KB), cat (PDF - 745 KB) or rabbits (PDF - 317 KB).
Further copies of the leaflet and poster can be obtained by calling 0800 917 2509.
The 'Getting Your Dog into Shape (PDF - 1.77 MB)' leaflet explains how you can achieve a healthy weight and shape for your dog. Paying attention to food and fitness is the key!
There are 5 links on this page which are in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. In order to view them you will need the free Acrobat Reader software installed on your computer.