Are your pets a healthy weight?

Wagging Tales

Many people will have been trying to shed a few pounds before they hit the beach this summer but PDSA is urging owners to think about their pets too, when considering a healthier lifestyle.

PDSA Vet Vicki Larkham-Jones said: “Around a third of dogs and a quarter of cats in the UK are thought to be overweight or obese, which can lead to some serious health problems including, heart disease and arthritis, which, in turn, can shorten their life span. Unsuitable diets and not enough exercise are the key culprits, and the bad news is that it is owners who are ultimately responsible for these two things! However, the good news is that it’s relatively easy to make simple changes to improve your pet’s health and happiness.”

Vicki advises that the first thing to do is to find out whether your pet is a healthy shape or not.  PDSA’s website has a handy guide on how to check this for dogs, cats and rabbits ( As a general rule you should be able to just feel their ribs if you run your hands over the side of your pet’s body.

Your vet can also show you how to do this and remember that it’s important to take your pet for a check-up before starting them on a diet. Your vet can examine your pet for any underlying health issues that could be affecting their size and cats and rabbits shouldn’t lose weight too quickly, as this can be potentially fatal for them.

If your vet does advise that weight loss is needed they will give plenty of information on how to do this. Vicki has also prepared a few handy hints to help pets battle the bulge:

Cut out the treats –even a small treat can significantly increase a pet’s calorie intake. So don’t give in to the puppy dog eyes, groom or play with them instead

Up the exercise – it’s tempting to cut down on walks in bad weather, but it’s important to ensure your pets stay active. Dogs need at least one walk a day including time off the lead when safe, although it’s nicer to do more frequent walks rather than just a long one if possible. Cats can be encouraged to play active games, such as using fishing rod-type toys and searching for food. Rabbits need a large exercise run with lots of toys and don’t forget other small pets, like guinea pigs and hamsters.  The extra exercise might even help you towards your weight loss goals too!

Weigh out your pet’s food – you’d be surprised how easy it is to over feed pets when you do this ‘by eye’ or using scoops. Follow the feeding guidelines or check with your vet, weigh out the exact amount, then split this into two or more meals a day, depending on your pet’s preference and needs.

For further information on weight loss, visit

PDSA is on a mission to educate the nation on pet wellbeing and is delighted that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping the charity to continue this vital work.

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