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STRUGGLING WITH A PUDGY PET? HERE'S WHAT TO DO TO KEEP THEM HEALTHY & HAPPY


Overweight cat and dog

Do you have a pudgy pet? A significant percentage of Australian pets are overweight, mirroring global trends in pet health.


According to the Pet Food Industry Association Australia. 41% of dogs and 32% of cats in Australia are overweight or obese, with one in three pet parents failing to recognise their pet's weight issues. 


And for every kilo your pet is overweight, it has the same equivalent impact as the following for humans: 


  • Cat: 1kg overweight = 15kg overweight

  • Small Dog: 1kg overweight = 6kg overweight

  • Large Dog: 1kg overweight = 3kg overweight

To find out if your pet is overweight try the, Hills Pet Nutrition Australia L.O.V.E. Test , which helps assess your pet's weight by providing a tailored assessment to understand the specific needs and health risks of your dog or cat.


  • L: Locating the pet's ribs

  • O: Observing from above

  • V: Viewing from the side

  • E: Evaluating feeding behaviour

Dr Jessica Mills, a Professional Consulting Veterinarian at Hill’s Pet Nutrition Australia, said you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs through their fur, and your cat or dog should not have a sagging tummy.


"Being overweight or obese is more than just a cosmetic problem for dogs and cats.," she said.


"Being overweight causes a state of chronic inflammation that can lead to the development of many preventable diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and respiratory conditions, and can shorten a pet’s life expectancy by up to two years.”


dog and kitten

Top 10 Tips to Support Pets Healthy Weight Management


1.Know your starting point: A healthy weight can vary between breeds and species, and you must know what’s ideal for your pet type. Typically, you should weigh your dog or cat in kilos and keep this figure in your pet’s health file as a clear starting point.

2. Calculate exact calories: You need to know how many calories your dog or cat requires to maintain a healthy balance; consider age, weight, activity level, and breed type, among other things. Feeding guides on food packages are just that—a guide. Your pet’s feeding amount may need adjustment to support its requirements. The team at your local veterinary clinic will be able to help determine your pet's ideal body weight and energy requirements.  

3. Provide a good quality diet: A nutritious diet can greatly impact your pet’s lifelong health and happiness.  Nutrition impacts your pets’ weight and contributes to healthy digestion, strong bones and a beautiful coat. Precisely balanced nutrition is key to any pet’s weight management journey.

4. Make sure you measure meals: Many pet owners simply ‘guestimate’ when it comes to feeding their dogs and cats the right amount. Weighing out your pets' food is the most accurate way to measure their daily intake, and using the measuring cup provided by the manufacturer can also keep you on the right track. The feeding guide on the pack will provide you with a good starting point. Alternatively, your veterinary health care team or manufacturer's helpline can help you determine the ideal amount to feed your pet.

5. Try to switch out ‘treats’: Don’t feed table scraps to your pet, especially if they are trying to lose weight. It might seem like a little ‘here and there’, but it can be the equivalent of a whole meal for some pets. In human calorie terms, 28 g of cheddar cheese is the equivalent of 1.5 burgers for your 9 kg dog or 3.5 burgers for your 4.5 kg cat! Instead, get into the habit of rewarding good behaviour with fun, not food. Pay your pet extra attention and affection with more cuddles, walks or playtime.

6. Use food to nourish the body and mind: Many pets overeat when they are bored. Puzzle feeders or treat balls can help keep your pet mentally active and slow down their eating habits by making them work for their food.

7. Prioritise an exercise plan: For Dogs, Look at simple ways to increase their exercise. Maybe it’s possible to add a couple of extra walks a week or increase the length of your daily walk. Try to change the route so they are exercising more intensely—going up hills or stairs is great for burning calories. Another great option is to find games they like, such as fetch, so that you both enjoy these daily exercise sessions.


For Cats: Simple games such as “hunting” the light can encourage them to move more. Shine A torch on the floor and walls and the natural movement will encourage your pet to chase it. For cats that love their food, puzzle feeders and dividing the meal around the house can encourage more movement whilst they eat - in fact, you can actually teach your cat to hunt for their food by hiding it around the house. 


Puppies

8. Make it a family affair: Ensure that everyone involved in your pet's care is aware of all changes to diet, exercise, or health regime. That way, it will be much easier to stick to their required plan, and you will be more likely to stay on track, as everyone can join together to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

9. Know what’s normal: It is important to understand what is normal when it comes to your pet's weight and size, just like you would with your own body. Make sure you regularly perform health checks and know the signs to look out for. Unexpected or sudden weight loss or weight gain could indicate underlying disease and be a good reason to check in with your vet.

10. Take it slow: Healthy weight management for your cat or dog is a lifestyle change. Remember, there is no quick fix, and nothing happens overnight. But by looking at your pets' diet and exercise regime, you can help keep them healthy and happy for many years to come.

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