The British Veterinary Associations Voice of the Profession survey 2016 showed that over 60% of vets said that pet obesity is their biggest health and welfare concern.
The Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition (a group of leading veterinary organisations and vet-led animal charities that aims to help pet owners better understand their pets' five welfare needs) recently polled over 500 vets and vet nurses and “recognising when a pet is overweight” was the top issue that vets and vet nurses wish UK pet owners were able to identify.
The health costs of obese pets are very like those for obese, humans as well as the concurrent welfare problems. The causes of obesity are also depressingly similar, with the overwhelming reason being inappropriate diet (too much, wrong type etc) and lack of exercise.
Diet and Exercise
Eating the right diet for pet and owner is about education and will power and the vet practice can really help owners get this right for their pet. Dedicated weight clinics can give advice and motivation to help make a meaningful difference. A health change in diet is good for pets and owners but they are not always going to enjoy this immediately or be able to share the experience together (the food anyway).
However, exercise is something that pet and owner can really share together, get great enjoyment from and improve both of their physical and mental health. Taking the dog for a walk costs significantly less than a gym membership and is much more fun. Most dogs are very keen to go for some exercise and are probably the only ones in the house that are delighted to see their owner at sunrise and be ready to go out and exercise. An excited wagging tail (even at 6 in the morning) and some exercise is a great way to start the day.
BVA’s five point plan to get fit
Advice from the British Veterinary Association for getting fit with pets:
- Go the extra mile – do an extra circuit around the local park or go a bit further on country walks, but remember that your dog should be on a lead in the countryside when there is livestock around
- Think toys not treats – toys that a dog can play with and get fun exercise from can get that tail wagging as energetically as treats can
- Get the right diet – make sure that your dog’s diet is right for its breed, size, age and lifestyle
- Ask your local vet – your local vet will know and be able to offer the best advice on your pet and its needs
- Join the veterinary practice weight club to motivate you to help your pet to lose weight.
Practices can play a key role in reminding pet owners of the importance of exercise. Here are some useful resources to help support your practice.
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