Sports & Fitness
Love Your Pets By Feeding Them Right
Pet obesity is a major global problem but it’s become a local problem too, according to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, South Africa. South African vets say that more than half of the patients they treat are overweight and that obesity is the number one health problem faced by pets today.
This comes as pet parents observe ‘Love your pet day’ (20 February, 2018), which is a day dedicated to giving that bit of extra attention to our furry pets. “We all like to reward our pets, but all too often we think of food as the first option. Why not think a little broader and aim to provide some mental and physical attention instead. They’re almost sure to love that more than the quick unhealthy titbit that hardly touches their mouth before being gulped down,” says Dr. Guy Fyvie, Nutritional Advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, South Africa.
Dr. Fyvie explains that too often pets aren’t getting the right level of exercise that would help their bodies to deal with the calorie intake they are receiving.
The added problem is that most pet parents are in denial about their pet being overweight and don’t understand the serious health problems that this can create. Research shows that overweight pets don’t live as long as their healthy, slimmer counterparts and are at risk of developing arthritis, urinary conditions, skin problems, heart disease and cancer.
Some pet parents believe overfeeding will make their pets happy. “But it’s been shown that overweight pets are less happy. Rather than putting your pet at risk of obesity-related diseases, love them enough to take them for a weight check” says Dr. Fyvie.
To get your pet’s health and weight checked, contact a participating Hill’s Pet Slimmer clinic and book a weight assessment. These are often offered free of charge – check with your practice.
“About 30% of owners never check their pets’ weight and 68% of them don’t follow guidelines when deciding on portion sizes. Excess weight in pets can decrease life expectancy by up to 2.5 years.
“To ensure your pet lives a longer, happier life it’s vital to get them assessed and onto a quality food that works to boost metabolism and isn’t just about calorie restriction, such as the ones offered on the Hill’s Pet Slimmer programme, that will get them back on track – to a healthy weight,” adds Dr. Fyvie.
The programme combines the clinically proven weight loss food with regular weigh-ins and expert advice and has been a successful formula for thousands of cats and dogs.
4 Treat tips to ensure a healthy pet:
Diets are tough for humans but they can be tough on pets too. Treats are fine as a reward for hitting milestones, but here are some things you need to keep in mind:
- Avoid feeding table scraps: It’s hard not to give in when your pet’s forlorn eyes are staring at you while you eat. However, the food from your plate is inappropriate because it’s nutritionally unbalanced and has high levels of salt and fat. It also offers far more calories than what the average dog or cat needs. For example, 28g of cheese is the equivalent to eating one hamburger for a 15kg dog in human terms and one slice of salami for a cat is the equivalent to eating one packet of chips and 28g of cheese in human terms. Feeding table scraps also promotes begging and fussy eating habits.
- Don’t leave food unattended or easily accessible: Pets can adopt sneaky tactics when you’re not looking and may be even more tempted whilst on a diet to find ways of getting at the food.
- Consider Hill’s foods for treats instead: You can use Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Stews as an occasional treat.
- Opt for healthy, low calorie snacks: These healthy snacks should not compromise weight loss if given occasionally:
- ¼ cup of carrot
- ¼ cup of green beans
- ¼ apple
- ¼ rice cake
- ½ fat free wheat cracker
- ½ medium cucumber
- 1 stalk celery