The last 6 months have been a difficult time for us all, having a dog or a cat no doubt, for myself included has made that slightly easier! It has given a reason to get up and get out, not to mention a very important reason for our once a day exercise that was allowed back in peak lockdown. However as vets we are noticing a change in the waistlines of our patients. Many owners have stated “it’s the lockdown effect” which definitely has been a true effect. Perhaps there have been many reasons from a changing working routine, to reduced motivation to do exercise, and not forgetting often finding comfort in giving our pets treats.

Breaking that cycle:

The first place to start is to book your pet in for a weight check. If you have the ability to weigh your pet at home on scales then this is ideal, it has only been recently that we have been able to see more patients in the practice for a number of different reasons. We ensure we weigh your pet at their annual vaccinations which is when we have been finding a trend in the number on the scales. 

Once we have established a weight gain the next task is talking to you, the owners. We have to ask that if you can be a honest as possible with how much your pet is eating it makes it so much easier to try to formulate a weight loss plan. Please do not be embarrassed and not mention that sneaky dentastix that they have at night or those extra dreamies If there has been some bad news given by the Prime minister. We are here to support both you and your pet in their weight loss journey.

Formulating a plan:

Once we know how much weight your pet has gained as vets and nurses we can help explain what their ideal body condition score is which in turn may give a rough guide as to how much weight your pet has to loose. It is a simple formula – energy in = energy out. Just like us the more we eat and less we do the pounds will start adding on. 

How can I help my pet?

Unfortunately as pets gain weight this can contribute to a number of health problems including diabetes in cats, urinary issues and increase the load on older cats joints. For dogs an increase in weight can impact on their mobility, their heart and in certain shorter nosed breeds such as French bull dogs even their breathing. We have to tell owners that they are killing their pets with kindness. Often it is a situation that owners are unaware of the amount of weight their pet has gained until we do weigh them. The initial hurdle to over come is getting the whole family on board to help reduce the amount of treats your pet is being given if they are getting these extra tit bits.

How much should I feed my pet?

We always recommend speaking to us about what diet your pet is on, we can then help to advise how much to feed your pet a day. We can make allowances for treats by reducing their over all food intake further at meal times but this has to be done carefully so your pet doesn’t loose too much weight too quickly.

What else can I do to help my pet?

Being struct with the weight loss plan is so important, but also you can help this by increasing your pets exercise. Whether that is increasing the play time that you have with your cat or increasing the distance your dog goes for a walk, as long as they are fit and healthy.

How can we monitor this weight loss?

Always take a before photo so you can use it for motivation and track how far you both have come, both from the side and from above. Our nurses who look after our weight clinics often will take these photos, as well as discussing in depth details about how much food your pets eat, along with measurements around their waists.

Help….. I don’t know where to start?

Please call your nearest Swaynes branch to have a chat to one of our vets or nurses. We can help advise if it is simply a case of reducing food, changing food on occasions and making sure there is no underlying health reasons as to why your pet cant loose the weight, including thyroid conditions heart conditions or other causes of a reduced exercise ability.

Remember you and your pet are not alone, we are here for you for all your pet’s health care needs including getting them back into perfect body condition score.