Watch Your Pet’s Weight This Festive Season

The festive season is upon us and for most of us this is a time to be happy, jolly and celebrate with family and friends. This time of the year also presents many opportunities for overindulgence. Popular culture dictates that we use food as a means of celebration, which presents a challenge, not only to our waistlines but also to those of our furry friends.

a studio image of a young woman, dressed in white, with her white dog, huging it, both posing, looking happy and smiling

Reports suggest that post the festive season, 46% of dogs, and 34% of cats are clinically overweight and obese. This is because the most pet owners are in love with their pets, and the desire, coupled with the abundance of tasty treats during the festive period leads to an increase in weight.

“During the festive season, it is a common practice to overeat. Our pets can be affected by this, as they may enjoy the availability of more snacks around the home, leading to health issues,” said Namit Bedwa – Calibra brand manager – distributed by Eurovets Veterniary Supplier, a trusted name in veterinary and animal health products in the UAE.

Studies indicate that a majority of vets during this time of year treat a number of pets for eating items that are toxic for them. With chocolate remaining top of the list of ingested ingredients.

Mr. Bedwa said that a few extra kilos are not a big deal, but it should not go beyond that. “A few extra pounds is ok, but anything which indicates absolute non-movement is a sign of obesity. Obesity in pets can lead to a variety of associated health problems.”

Health Implications of Obesity

Similarly, to humans, living with overweight or obesity can also have serious health implications for pets beyond effects on physical appearance including –

  • Diabetes
  • Shortened lifespan – by up to 2 years depending on the breed
  • Joint issues
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Arthritis
  • Poorer quality of life
  • Decreased activity and vigour
  • Increased cancer risk

While some of the effects of obesity can be reversed through diet changes and more physical activity, some damage will remain for life.

How to Help Pets Beat the Bulge?

While there is no method in place to help the pets beat obesity during the festive season, a few simple steps can help achieve the balance.

  • Work out an accurate plan on what you feed your pet. As a pet owner, it is imperative that youknow how much food your dog or cats currently gets. This will help you plan and facilitate something special at Christmas. So, as a first step measure your food portions precisely. It is recommended to use electronic weigh scales; to be able to measure the feeding portions accurately.
  • Work out the calorie content of the regular feed and the treat. Once you have the portions measured and in place, decide on the form that the treat will take. The best option here is to treat your pet to an addition portion of their normal food. If, however, you would prefer for them to receive something different, check the pack for the calorie content. As a typical guide, a treat should be no more than 10% of your pet’s normal daily intake.
  • Work on the regular portioning. Once you have settled on what the treat will be, and how many calories is contains, adjust the amount of normal food accordingly. The best approach to make this happen is to offer your pet regular food in measured quantities, such as reducing the amount you give by a small amount two days before and afterwards).
  • Work on making the enjoyment last. A treat that lasts short, doesn’t feel like a treat.  Why not take one treat and break it into many small portions? You might be able to get 10 or more rewards from a single treat; that’s ten times the love!
  • Work on being careful to avoid all the extra opportunities for your pets to steal food, including from additional family members who may be around.
  • Work on getting the right supplier. As much as a treat is important for your pet, ensure that it is bought from a reliable food supplier. This will be a key factor in helping you maintain the weight of your furry friend. The Calibra Expert Nutrition line is recommended to address the individual needs of your dog or cat. The recipes, developed by experts, address your pet’s specific lifestyle and environment, thereby supporting its health and helps relieve various issues such as overworked joints or sensitive digestion.
  • Work on the exercise regime. We all sometimes feel like getting out of the house – and what better excuse than walking your dog which helps you both walk off some calories.

While it is obvious for pet owners to be carried away in treating pets with odd food treats, given the challenges we face in treating obesity, and especially extreme obesity, it is far simpler to avoid giving them in the first place.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight will increase the chance that they will life a long and healthy life. Surely, that is a far better present for them. After all, it just requires a little bit of pre-planning, to ensure that your pet navigates this festive season in the healthiest way possible.