Say no to fat cats and podgy pups

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FOCUS -

THE is­sue of over­weight pets is get­ting worse ac­cord­ing to ex­perts in Buck­ing­hamshire. Vet Phillippa Mitchell runs Ac­tive Pet in Coleshill, a phys­io­ther­apy re­hab cen­tre for pets. Be­sides of­fer­ing acupunc­ture and hy­drother­apy to an­i­mals to help them get bet­ter, the cen­tre of­fers nu­tri­tional ad­vice and can or­gan­ise a fit­ness plan for over­weight pets.

Mrs Mitchell said: “As peo­ple have got more over­weight so have their pets. We are all not so ac­tive and that can mean that dogs and cats are also less ac­tive. Peo­ple are work­ing longer hours so they have less time to ex­er­cise their pets and go on walks with them.

“I think we are see­ing more and more over­weight pets.”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port writ­ten by the Pet Food Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion last year, nearly half of all pets that are taken to the vets in the UK are over­weight.

The for­mer Bea­cons­field High School pupil said that she of­ten sees dogs that are over­weight af­ter get­ting arthri­tis. Mrs Mitchell said: “It can make a big dif­fer­ence to their arthri­tis if they are over­weight as it im­pacts their joints and makes mov­ing harder. They feel more tired and can’t run around as much. It is a vi­cious cir­cle.” The pet ex­pert re­vealed she has come across a 10 kilo cat and an­i­mals who re­ceive roast din­ners, McDon­ald’s and even Ken­tucky Fried Chicken as meals. Mrs Mitchell said: “My opin­ion is that own­ers should visit their vet prac­tice if they are wor­ried their pet is over­weight.

“There may be a med­i­cal rea­son such as an un­der ac­tive thy­roid gland, called hy­pothy­roidism, for their weight.

“Own­ers like giv­ing their pet a treat, but it is about help­ing own­ers to find other ways to make their pet feel loved. Peo­ple just treat them as part of the fam­ily and give the pets the same food to eat.”

The Wheel­house Ve­teri­nary Cen­tre runs a diet clinic in Chal­font St Giles, Amer­sham and Che­sham. A qual­i­fied nurse can weigh your pet and can of­fer a suit­able diet plan if they need to shed the pounds. Nurse clinic co­or­di­na­tor at the Chal­font St Giles cen­tre, Lucy Black­well, said: “The is­sue has def­i­nitely got worse, it is very preva­lent. I think there is lots of cheaper foods out there and the per­cep­tion has changed so own­ers think that their pets are skinny when they are nor­mal.”

Ac­cord­ing to the nurse, own­ers should be able to feel their pet’s ribs, see a tuck un­der the belly and

Philippa Mitchell ad­justs the equip­ment. Left and above, two pets in needs of some weight train­ing

Philippa Mitchell the pet should have an over­all hour­glass fig­ure.

Miss Black­well added: “Our clin­ics can help be­cause own­ers can feel that there is an over­load of in­for­ma­tion some­times, there are 30 or 40 dif­fer­ent di­ets out there. I think it is wor­ry­ing as we are see­ing more and more pets with weight re­lated prob­lems like den­tal is­sues. For most dis­eases, there is a link back to weight. There is a big im­pact on their bones and joints and they will have nar­rowed air­ways, which makes breath­ing more dif­fi­cult.”

Most pet food com­pa­nies have spe­cific re­duced calo­rie di­ets, which can aid them to lose weight.

To find out more and to see a chart to judge if your pet is over­weight, see http://ac­tivepet.co.uk/.

Above. pa­tient Cara. Be­low left, Philippa Mitchell puts Cara through her paces

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