New Year – New Diet For Your Pet!

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January 3, 2019
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January 3, 2019

New Year – New Diet For Your Pet!

By Fiona Mullan RVN

With Christmas now behind us, many of us will plan New Year’s resolutions, such as joining the gym and eating more healthily to lose the extra inches.

 

With an estimated 50% of UK pets now overweight, this is a perfect time to include your pet in your new healthier lifestyle. Here are a few tips for healthier pets.

 

  • Know the ‘body condition score’!  

 

Body condition scoring is the way your vet/veterinary nurse will assess your pet’s weight and shape and if they need to lose weight. A common score is a scale of 1-5

1= emaciated, 2 = underweight, 3 = ideal, 4 = overweight,  5 = obese.

An ideal score means you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs under a minimal layer of fat cover, but not able to see them. Viewed from above they should have a visible waistline, and no hanging belly. Make a free weight check appointment at your veterinary practice to check your pet’s ideal weight and food quantities.

 

  • Weigh their food accurately

 

A ‘handful’ or ‘bowlful’ is not an accurate way of measuring your pet’s daily intake, and more likely that they will be overfed as a result. Check the feeding guidelines on the food bag to work out what their total DAILY requirement should be. The daily requirement is the total amount they need in a 24-hour period. If they get treats, scraps from the table, this is all EXTRA calories they do not need!

 

  • Get them out an about!

 

It may seem obvious, but a lot of pets do not get the exercise that they require. A quick ‘stroll around the block’ with your dog is not adequate, and they will not burn off what they are taking in. Including your dog in your own work out, will make exercise more enjoyable for both of you increase bonding.

 

  • Rabbits and cats are more tricky to exercise, but not impossible!

 

Some cats love to engage in play, and chasing laser pens and string toys can be a great way of getting them moving. Rabbits and smaller pets should have access to a large run enclosure where they can hop around freely. Try making their enclosure more exciting with different levels which they can climb up and down, and tunnels for them to run through.

Keeping your pet at an ideal weight will save on medical bills and prolong their life.

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