“At the beginning of this year, Agria announced our focus for 2023 would be on animal welfare, with reference to the Animal Welfare Act of 2006. We now address the uncomfortable topic of obesity, a major animal welfare issue and the big problem with the UK’s pets. Based on research commissioned by Agria, we are looking at how we come to be in this situation, what the implications are, and what we, as loving pet owners, can do about it.”
Vicki Wentworth, Managing Director, Agria Pet Insurance
Pet obesity is sadly on the rise, with a recent study showing the UK has the highest proportion of obese pets in the world. But why does it matter if your pet is overweight? And why do so many pet owners simply not realise that their pet is larger than it ought to be?
In our support of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, Agria Pet Insurance is committed to spreading awareness of the responsibilities we have to our pets. When it comes to obesity, as well as a reduced quality of life, animals can suffer with serious health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Joint problems
- Respiratory problems
The causes of obesity are usually as we would expect, too much food, too many treats, and not enough exercise. Breed, sex, and age can also contribute – especially as our pets get older and slow down. However, it is always best to rule out any potential underlying health issues, and get your pet checked by a vet before making any diet or lifestyle changes.
How can I check if my pet is overweight?
- Place your hands on your pet’s shoulder blades and run them lightly along their back. You should be able to feel the outline of their ribs.
- Look from above – the curve of their waist behind their ribs should be visible.
- From the side, their waist should follow a clear line upwards behind their ribs and should not be sagging underneath.
- Weight – always monitor your pet’s weight by weighing regularly.
How is obesity treated?
Prevention is better than the cure; however, treatment is a combination of gradual exercise and correct diet.
- Speak with your vet to rule out any medical conditions.
- Create a feeding plan with regular weight checks.
- Special calorie-controlled food can help.
- Increase walking gradually once given the all clear from your vet. Little and often to start and increasing play time at home can help, especially for indoor cats.
- Cut out treats and table scraps, incorporating any into their daily allowance.
Once your pet’s ideal body weight has been achieved, establishing a lifetime weight maintenance programme and regular weigh-ins with your vet is essential.
There is a huge benefit to pets and their owners in taking care of their weight. For example, dogs fed to a lean weight from puppyhood through to adulthood live approximately 2 years longer! And without the health conditions associated with excess body weight, they will live much happier lives.
For more information about protecting your pet with Agria Pet Insurance please visit agriapet.co.uk