Lifestyle: The problem of obesity in cats and dogs

If you follow me on any form of social media, you’ll have (virtually) met my cat, Bertie. Bertie came into our lives in September last year, shortly after our 19 year old, Patch passed away. Someone had found a three week old kitten in their garden and had taken it into the vets where my brother’s girlfriend works and she hand-reared him until he was six weeks old and then he came to live with us. Bertie is now 10.5 months old and has gone from the tiny little 600g bundle of fluff that he was in October to a whopping 5.9kg beast – you really know about it when he jumps on you from a height!

Although Bertie is still growing, we need to make sure that he doesn’t get too fat and end up obese as obesity in cats and dogs is a big problem. According to research by the PDSA, one third of dogs and a quarter of cats are overweight — a statistic that is expected to grow in the coming months. But why are our pets suffering? The PDSA attribute the growing number of overweight pets to Britain’s junk food lifestyle. As we gorge on takeaway food and sugary snacks, so are our pets as we share our treats with them. While we think we’re being kind, we’re actually being far from it.

Luckily for us, Bertie isn’t into ‘human food’ at all. He doesn’t bother us while we are eating and certainly doesn’t beg for our food, so he doesn’t have anything that he’s not supposed to – apart from the malteser that he stole from me last week but I think that was more to do with the shape of it, he’s still a very playful kitten. The weight of your pet is influenced by a whole lot more than just their diet, exercise also plays a huge part as does their breed, sex, age and whether or not they have been neutered.

It’s so important to monitor the weight of your pet and make sure that they’re getting enough exercise and aren’t eating too much. This is often easier said than done so, to help, we have enlisted the help of dog food retailer Feedem — who offers a range of grain free dog food — to share some tips:

Is my pet obese?

Before you can determine the best course of action, you must first establish whether your pet is overweight. Here’s how to examine your cats and dogs to check their weight:

Cats

  • Ribs, spine and hip bones should be easily seen and felt.
  • When looking from above, the waist should be clearly visible.
  • The stomach should only have a small amount of fat and shouldn’t sag.

Dogs

    • The outline of your dog’s ribs should be easy to see and feel.
    • When looking from above, the waist should be clearly visible.
    • From the side, your dog’s stomach should be tucked up.

How can my pet lose weight?

In general, there are two ways your pet can lose weight: limiting their diet and increasing the amount of exercise they receive.

It’s really important to feed your pet a food that’s suitable for their age, lifestyle and health status. If not, it will be difficult for them to get the nutrients they require. Generally, cats require a meat-based, well-balanced diet, while dogs will need a balanced diet. Most human food does not nutritionally support cats or dogs, so should be avoided. At the moment, Bertie is still on kitten food and will be until he is 12 months old. We’re gradually introducing adult food but he does still need the nutrients that are in the kitten food to help his development.

Monitor the amount of food you’re giving your pet. Cats usually prefer several small meals a day, while a dog should be fed at least once or as advised by a vet. Always read and follow the feeding instructions given on the pet food. Bertie has a couple of sachets of wet food each day and always has a bowl of dry food down. He’s quite greedy, so if he has finished his breakfast by 10am, we don’t give him anymore until lunchtime as he will just eat until you stop feeding him.

When it comes to exercise, the amount your dog needs will vary between breeds. For example, smaller breeds like a pug, a bichon frise or shih tzu will need around 20 minutes exercise, excluding indoor play. Larger breeds like dalmations, boxers and border collies will need more than two hours. Take a look at this graphic from the PDSA to find out how much exercise other breeds require.

You can up your cat’s exercise by encouraging them to play with cat toys. This should get them jumping, pouncing and leaping around. Bertie is an indoor cat at the moment, but I do take him outside on a lead and he loves to explore the garden and chase after insects. We will be letting him outside on his own eventually, but for now we just make sure he has enough to play with indoors. As with all cats, he has his mad moments where he runs up and down the stairs and loves chasing moths and flies around the house, so he’s getting plenty of exercise.

Share:

24 Comments

  1. July 24, 2017 / 4:10 pm

    We have two dogs who love treats and I find the best way is to make sure their treats aren’t too sugary and they get plenty of exercise. They had a checkup over the weekend and we were told they were two extremely healthy dogs who were a credit to us so must be doing something right!

  2. July 24, 2017 / 6:51 pm

    Its so important to keep pets at a healthy weight – they need so much more exercise than you think! Thanks for highlighting this issue!

  3. July 24, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    Such an important post, it is so important to make sure that your pet is healthy and it is very easy to over feed them and not realise they are putting on weight. My dog looks like he has at the moment but he is having a huge shred and as he has two coats it is a never ending battle to groom him x

  4. July 24, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    This is such a great post, it is something that can happen so quickly in pets isn’t it especially as they get older and less active.

  5. July 24, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    Definitely something pet owners need to be aware of. It’s important to keep our pets healthy.

  6. July 24, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    My naughty pups love their treats and I can really tell when they’ve put on weight but it can be so hard to get tough with them when they’re so cute but it’s so needed.

  7. July 25, 2017 / 1:32 am

    Can I just say off topic how cute your cats expressions are, so great at taking selfies LOL. On the other hand, thank you for raising awareness of pet obesity as it is something not all of us would have considered x

  8. Dannii
    July 25, 2017 / 9:24 am

    What a beautiful cat. We have 2 cats and one has always been small but the other one is huge. We had to put him on a diet and then he lost too much weight and had to put it back on and it keeps going up and down.

  9. July 25, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    Not having animals myself I hadn’t even thought about the problem of your animals getting bigger, but I think routine is so important x

  10. July 25, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    My dog had a weight issue when he was younger. It’s so easy to do! Now we need to make sure he’s a stable weight because of his arthritis. Poor old doggo.

  11. July 25, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    My cat has had weight issues in the past, but trying to stick to a routine and changing his food has really helped x

  12. July 25, 2017 / 1:51 pm

    My dog Humphrey is in great shape, but my older dog Jane is definitely on the overweight side. I’ve been trying to run her more.

  13. July 25, 2017 / 7:12 pm

    Bertie is so cute! I love it’s little paws! I want a pet now!

  14. July 25, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    Bertie is super cute. It’s great that you are highlighting this. I have seen loads of over weight cats and they really shouldn’t be fed human food especially if it has been processed.

  15. July 26, 2017 / 11:54 am

    Bertie is such a lovely cat. I never realised how many cats and dogs are currently obese.

  16. July 26, 2017 / 4:59 pm

    My colleagues love pets and I must share this. Nice to learn more about the pets healthy programs and for sharing some tips and facts.

  17. July 26, 2017 / 5:54 pm

    Such a great post for those with pets and concerned about their weight – love Bertie btw 🙂 x

  18. July 26, 2017 / 6:53 pm

    My cat lives with my mum as I didn’t think it was fair to move her from a home she loves and she’s lived at for 14 years. My mum tends to feed her too many special biscuits I bought her – science diet for seniors! She would easily give her a bowl of biscuits a day including wet food. She started getting a little bit of a fatty tummy so I’ve told my mum to stop over feeding her! She’s getting a bit old now so need to keep her healthy! Bertie is a gorgeous cat by the way!

  19. francesca
    July 26, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    This is definitely something I always wonder about! Is my cat too thin or too big I just never know how to tell so thank you!

  20. July 26, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    I had never really thought about the issue of obesity in pets, but it’s good to bring attention to it. I don’t currently have a pet, but I will keep this in mind for when I do. Also, Bertie is adorable! x

  21. July 26, 2017 / 9:47 pm

    ive never actually thought about obesity in cats and dogs. it’s important to keep them healthy too

  22. July 28, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    I don’t have any much idea for cats and dogs and this is absolutely a great information and I will keep this in my mind we’re plaing to adopt a pet

  23. July 28, 2017 / 8:25 pm

    Your cat is just adorable! I didn’t realise obesity was such a big thing in cats and dogs though as I’ve never owned either!

    Louise x

  24. Jemma
    July 31, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    Your cat is so cute and making me want to go and get one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *