Dear Vicki, My dog, Scotty, has gained a few pounds re­cently. How can I help him get back down to a health­ier weight with­out him get­ting hun­gry? Well done for notic­ing Scotty’s weight gain, as be­ing over­weight re­duces a pet’s qual­ity of life and in­creases the risk of de­vel­op­ing weight-re­lated dis­eases.

Firstly, take Scotty to your vet for a healthcheck to make sure there are no un­der­ly­ing med­i­cal causes. They will also ad­vise on how much food and ex­er­cise he needs. Weigh­ing food, rather than mea­sur­ing with a cup, will help en­sure he gets just the right amount of food to lose weight while keep­ing his hunger sat­is­fied – an in­ex­pen­sive set of kitchen scales is ideal for this.

You’ll also need to cut out any treats or scraps Scotty is usu­ally fed.

Lots of vet­eri­nary prac­tices of­fer free weight-loss clin­ics, so it is well worth tak­ing ad­van­tage of these. Dear Vicki, My 10-year-old black cat, Sweep, has al­ways been fit and healthy but just lately he has been los­ing a lot of weight even though he eats well. Is it just old age or could there be some­thing wrong with him?

Com­mon causes of weight loss in cats, de­spite a good ap­petite, in­clude hor­monal con­di­tions (such as an over-ac­tive thy­roid gland) or or­gan prob­lems (such as kid­ney or liver dis­ease). You should take Sweep to your vet to be ex­am­ined as soon as pos­si­ble.

Your vet may need to take a blood or urine sam­ple to help make the di­ag­no­sis, as well as give Sweep a thor­ough ex­am­i­na­tion.

Once a di­ag­no­sis is made, it is pos­si­ble to man­age these dis­eases with daily med­i­ca­tion.

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