Preventing obesity in pets – the role owners play

Did you know that most pet owners play a huge part in their pets’ weight? Unfortunately, pets are very seldom overweight due to underlying metabolic conditions or diseases, but mostly due to owners unknowingly causing their pets to gain weight as a result of bad habits. And this increased during the lockdown period when people were at home with their pets.

The biggest culprit is probably the inappropriate use of treats and allowing dogs to snack on human food. Treats are a great way to train and even spoil your pet when given in appropriate amounts, but this is often not the case.

Owners should avoid feeding their pets any leftovers, table scraps, excessive doggy treats and human food like cheese, biltong or meats. This has become increasingly difficult, since more people are working from home and spending more time with their pets. We have all fallen victim to the pleading eyes of an adorable, begging pet at some point. Although exercise is important for your pet’s physical and mental wellbeing, on its own, it is often not enough to ensure that your pet stays lean and healthy.

Another common mistake is not measuring your pet’s meals. Most commercial pet food has a guideline on the packaging, explaining how much food your pet needs in 24 hours, according to their weight. Remember, pets should be fed according to their ideal adult weight, and not necessarily their current weight. Your local veterinarian can help you determine your pet’s ideal weight.

Also remember that an overweight or obese pet is under no circumstances cute. Obesity is a condition that negatively influences your pet’s quality of life and predisposes him to – as well as contributing to – several disease states, for example, arthritis. So, cut down on those treats, ensure that you are feeding the right amount of a vet-recommended pet food, and ask your local vet for their help to ensure that your pet is at his ideal weight.

Dr Johan Jordaan, veterinarian

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