Dog_60With the New Year comes the traditional raft of New Year resolutions…. Stop Smoking, Cut out Alcohol, Take more Exercise, See more of your Friends or Family…….while these may all be admirable ambitions for 2016, how often have you heard these promises  made and then broken?

Why not do something a little different this year? Why not make a commitment that you can keep? Why not extend the commitment to achieving a healthier lifestyle to your pet?

Statistics show that as many as 1/3 of domestic cats and dogs in the UK are now classed as obese. The scale of the problem I see every day in the Consulting Room becomes greater and greater with increasing numbers of overweight dogs, cats, rabbits and even small rodents being brought into the surgery for treatment.

As well as general loss of quality of life obese animals suffer from similar health troubles to overweight humans. The health implications we’re increasingly diagnosing as a result of obesity include diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and certain types of cancer. As in humans, pet obesity can reduce life expectancy.

The causes of pet obesity are fairly straightforward: pets are being fed too much and exercised too little. With feeding, we see two general problems. One is overfeeding an otherwise good quality diet. Owners don’t follow feeding guidelines – they guess what’s the right amount or they feed on demand, when they think their pet is hungry. The second thing we see is people feeding their pets treats throughout the day – takeaways, cheese, chips, crisps – often in small amounts, but pets really do struggle to burn off those extra calories.

When overfeeding is combined with under-exercise, the consequences are pretty obvious.

So this New Year why not make your pet’s weight the subject of your New Year resolution? Record his weight at the start of the year, set a target weight that he should be (not the current weight he is), feed him ONLY the recommended amount of food for his target weight (and no cheating!) and try to increase his exercise to burn off energy.

If you can avoid getting out treats for him during the day, then that will have a huge impact….and if you find that the best way to avoid giving the dog a biscuit or some crisps is not to have them in the house………you might just find that you achieve your 2015 resolutions alongside your 2016 one. Happy New Year.