How to keep your pet’s weight in check
Pet weight loss 101
It’s up to you to help your pet lose weight. “Fat is an organ,” says Dr Mehtar. “It is best to slowly and steadily shed the weight. Weight loss should never be a one- to two-month solution. Rather aim for six to eight months! Slow and steady wins the race!”
Here are some ways you can help your pet lose weight. Think traffic light. Think green, amber and red!
It’s a go
* Sign up for an effective and safe weight-loss programme at your vet.
* Divide the recommended daily portion (as indicated on the back of the food bag or tin) for your pet into two portions – breakfast and dinner. This goes for all pets, not only those on a weight-loss programme.
* While on the programme, try to weigh your pet every month on the same scale. Your vet probably won’t mind if you pop in for a quick weigh on the practice scale. This will give an indication if your pet is losing weight and the diet is working.
* Make sure your pet gets regular and consistent exercise. Minimal regular exercise is better than occasional excessive exercise. If your dog is very obese, you’ll have to start slowly. Daily, short, controlled walks are best. As your pet gets fitter, start increasing the distance. If your dog is trained, you can let him run off lead in a safe area. If he enjoys water, get him swimming, it’s a great exercise for weight loss!
* Include play and exercise when feeding your pet. Cats can be fed in a way that makes them ‘work’ for their food. Use food-dispending toys, hide food away so your pet can find it, or feed your pet upstairs.
* Once your pet reaches his goal weight, feed him an appropriate diet according to his life stage and lifestyle
Proceed with caution
* Don’t guess the right amount for your pet’s food. Measure! Just 1% more kilojoules per day will cause obesity over time.
* Don’t forget to include the kilojoules of all treats in your pet’s total daily allowance. These should be part of the total amount of food he receives every day, not ‘added’ extras.
* Avoid high-kilojoule snacks for training treats. Rather use toy rewards or praise as the focus of your training programme.
* Have a timetable or feeding roster so everyone knows when pets are fed – this will prevent double feeding and unsuccessful weight loss.
* If you have your pet sterilised, reduce his energy intake by 10% on the day of the sterilisation. After sterilisation pets require fewer kilojoules to maintain their weight.
Did you know?
In 1989 an English Mastiff named Zorba weighed in at 156kg’s, setting a Guiness World Record
Did you know?
Unlike humans, dogs produce their own vitamin C
Now that’s got to stop!
* Never put your pet on a severely restricted diet – it can be detrimental to his health.
* Stop free-feeding your pet. (See the box ‘Do you overfeed your pets?’)
* Stop feeding all human food to pets.
* If you have staff, tenants or elderly parents living on your property, make sure they know not to give pets any table scraps – all pets, not just those on a diet!
* If you have fruit trees on your property, make sure your pet does not have free access to dropped fruit