We look at the issue of pet obesity, offering advice on how to prevent and combat this widespread animal health issue
One of our main goals at Scampers is to enlighten people about the benefits of feeding their animals appropriately. Obesity in pets is a huge problem in this country. In fact, recent research by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA) revealed that nearly half the number of pets making a visit to the vets are overweight. This is a frightening statistic, especially considering experts estimate that owners with overweight pets could be shortening their lives by two years. That’s not the only concern however. Obesity is also linked to a slew of other health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
In short, it causes a lot of unnecessary suffering, which can affect your pet for long periods of their life. On the upside, obesity is a completely preventable problem – so it’s essential that pet owners educate themselves and take action for the wellbeing of their pets.
The most important thing is to employ a bit of common sense when it comes to your pet’s food intake. Just like with humans, if pets consume more calories than they burn off, they will gain weight, and just like with humans, their calorie requirement will depend upon their size, individual metabolism, age, exercise and overall health. With so many variables, the best course of action is trial and error: aim to feed your pet the amount that will maintain a healthy weight, adjusting it depending on their activity. It sounds obvious, but keep a close eye on your pet; if they gain weight, reduce their portions and if they are losing weight, feed them more – don’t fall into the trap of ‘feeding the bowl’ rather than your pet.
Another major cause of obesity is treating – or more accurately, over treating – and feeding pets poor-quality, sugary, cerealbased treats and biscuits. We wouldn’t be comfortable constantly giving snacks full of colourants, preservatives, sugar and salt to our children, and we should think twice about giving them to our pets too. That’s not to say that we can’t give our pooches healthy treats on a regular basis, but it’s important that you adjust the rest of their food intake accordingly. Aim for natural, low-calorie treats which have the least processing and are actually good for your pets. We have a huge range of healthy treats to choose from such as those from Barker&Barker, Soopa, Billy+Margot, Perrito, Betty Miller, Thrive, Farmfoods, Hungry Hector, Dr Chew and Lily's Kitchen.
A Weighty Issue
As well as weighing your dog or cat on the scales regularly, there are a few simple checks you can do to ensure they are at a healthy weight. Firstly, look at the outline of your pet’s ribs and run your hands along them; you should be able to feel their ribs and even see the outline of the last rib. You should also be able to see and feel your pet’s waist, and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above.
Take a look from the side: your pet’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from this angle. It all comes back to keeping an eye on your pet and monitoring any changes. If in doubt, pop into Scampers and we’ll happily give you some tips and advice on whether your pet might need to change his diet. You may have to try different diet regimes, but we’re committed to getting to know our customers’ pets and what they need.
Understand the Label
It’s down to you to make good choices when it comes to deciding what to feed your pet. So make sure you understand what exactly is in that bag.
Sadly, choosing a good-quality product is harder than it should be – ambiguous, sometimes even misleading, labelling is common. The onus is on you to do the research, but there are a few key things to look out for. ‘Meat and animal derivatives’ are a common ingredient on many pet food labels: this is a generic term for rendered animal proteins and can refer to any animal, and any part of the animal. They’re often chosen for their cheap cost rather than their quality. Instead of these, look out for pet foods containing ingredients like ‘dried chicken meat’ or ‘fresh chicken’‚ which are naming the meat source.
‘Cereals’ is an umbrella term to cover all kinds of grain – which can be a good source of fibre and carbohydrates. Unless specified, these can vary from batch to batch, depending on what’s cheapest at the time. Cereals might also be used to bulk up pet foods, but their nutritional value is low, so be careful of foods with a very high ‘cereal’ percentage, and look for more easily digestible grains such as rice.
Come and visit Scampers and check out our overwhelming natural treat selection.
Scampers Natural Pet Store is located on the A142 Soham By Pass, between Ely and Newmarket and only 15 miles from Cambridge.
Scampers, Your Pet’s Natural Choice.
Copy reproduced courtesy of Nicola Foley / Cambridge Edition magazine