Say no to fat cats and podgy pups
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
WATCHING HER WEIGHT: