Cat is the vet for an on-line social networking site for pet lovers.

fatcatAt this time of year a lot of us are thinking about our waist lines and planning a diet, but what about our pets? At least 20% of dogs and cats are thought to be obese. It is a problem which causes animals to be at risk of many other diseases, but can be easily treated with dietary control and exercise changes. So, I have compiled a list of ‘Top Tips’ to help you help your pet lose weight!

1. Encourage good eating habits from when your pet is young
* Feed your pet only at meal times.

* Use treats only as a training aid or a reward for good behaviour

* Do not vary the food too much; this will encourage your pet to be fussy.

* Do not encourage begging behaviour by giving in to it.

Weigh out your pet's food2. Weigh out your pets food

Never estimate the amount you feed your pet, always weigh it out. Alternatively, use a see though plastic container and mark it with the correct level of food.

If you feed a mixed diet of dry and tinned food, remember to reduce the recommended daily allowances of each to ensure you do not overfeed.

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3. Feed twice daily instead of once

Feeding two small meals a day compared to one large one can really help to keep your pet feeling full, and stop them begging for treats when they get hungry.

4. Feed an appropriate diet for your pet

* Consider switching to a ´light´ diet if your pet is over weight, or prone to gaining weight.

*There are now specific diets for neutered pets which are lower in calories and help prevent other health problems.

*Don’t feed working breeds, such as Labradors and Springer Spaniels, a working breed food unless they are actually used to work, as these are very high in calories.

5. Cut back on treats

* Treats and ´extras´ can really add calories to your pets diet, try to cut back on them as much as possible.

* Only reward your pet when they have done something worth rewarding.

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* Remember, your attention and fuss is just as important to your pet as a treat.

* When you do treat your pet, look at what is in your hand and break it in half, instantly halving the amount of calories they take in!

* Try treating your pet with carrots instead of biscuits.

6. Use a ´daily food tub´

* Keep the plastic container with your pets daily food allowance on the side. Use the biscuits out of that to treat them or give them extras.

* When the tub is empty, you know your pet has had their daily allowance, and they shouldn´t have any more.

* This is particularly good for families where more than one person feeds or treats your pet, as everyone knows when the tub is empty, that’s it for the day!

7. Do not give table scraps!

* Table scraps are one of the biggest culprits for encouraging your pet to gain weight and if they need to go one a diet, they should be cut out completely.

* Human food is often loaded with calories, and many animals stomachs cannot cope with its richness.

* If you cannot resist your pets pleading eyes at the table, then remove them from the room while you are eating.

dogexercise8. Increase your pet’s exercise

* This is vital if your pet is to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

* Dogs should have at least 1 hours off the lead exercise every day.

* Encourage cats to play, or let them outside.

9. Make sure they are not getting fed elsewhere

This is particularly relevant for cats, who will often pop to the neighbour’s for a second breakfast!
However, many dogs will often spend the day with family or friends while their owners are out at work.
Make sure everybody knows that your pet is on a diet and not too feed them any extras.

10. If you are concerned about your pets weight, take them along to the vets.

All vets will have scales they can stand on and you will be able to find out their ideal weight. You shouldn´t need an appointment for this and most vets and vet nurses will happily advise you on how to help you pet shed a few pounds without any charge.  Click here to find your nearest vet.

Click here for more information about what to feed your dog and feeding your cat