Fitness and wellbeing are some of the most popular New Year trends, and with pet obesity on the rise I believe pet owners should make some get fit resolutions for their animals too. A staggering one third of the estimated 18 million dogs and cats in the UK are considered to be obese, so it is essential that we act now to educate pet owners and reduce this problem.
As with humans, obesity in animals carries with it a whole host of health problems. From cancer and heart disease to degenerated joints, overweight pets are more likely to suffer from a number of related medical conditions. It is important that owners watch out for pet obesity and learn how to treat it.
A 2015 report published by the Pet Food Manufacturer's Association (PFMA) found that 73% of vets believe that obesity in pets is indeed getting worse and that the majority of pet owners are seemingly unaware of the life-limiting effects obesity can bring; overweight animals can have a reduced lifespan of up to two years.
The main reason pets become overweight is too much food and too little exercise. The PDSA's 2015 Animal Welfare (PAW) report states that over 2.6 million dogs receive scraps or leftovers as their main meal and 27% of cat owners continue to rely on 'common sense' when deciding how much to feed their cats.
The PAW report also shows that 58% of the British public believe that severely overweight pets should be removed from their owners, but the feeding problem is also due to too much love. It is common for pet owners give treats as a sign of affection and it can be difficult to refuse those 'puppy-dog eyes' begging for treats.
But it's not all doom and gloom. While pet obesity is easily preventable, simply reducing portion size won't work, as this could cause malnourishment over time. There are a number of scientifically formulated nutritional products designed to help with healthy and safe weight reduction but do consult your vet before making a diet or lifestyle changes as they can provide your four legged friend with a full health check and tailored weight management plan.
Campaigns such as the PDSA's Pet Fit Club and PFMA's GetPetsFit have done much to raise awareness of the issue of pet obesity and transform the lives of severely overweight pets. These initiatives are a clear example that education and tailored veterinary support can help reverse obesity in animals.
So don't sit on your hind legs! It's easy to reward your pets with treats as an expression of love but why not take a different approach? Healthy eating and exercise are staple New Year's resolutions so if you're taking up a fitness plan, include your pet; they'd be more than happy to spend quality time with you in the great outdoors or if it's too cold why not try something a little more creative like yoga with your four legged friend?