Focus on Nutrition – Preventing Obesity. Feature Article by Samantha Waugh – Nutritional Consultant

 My name is Samantha and I am a Veterinary Technologist working in the consulting and client education section of the profession. I am passionate about all things preventative care and assisting our clients to create happy, healthy and long lasting bonds with their pets.

One of the most influential factors on disease and injury prevention, longevity and overall quality of life is their body condition. 

The most common body condition problem we see is pets being overweight and studies show half of our pets fall into this category. There are many factors that can influence our pets to gain weight; most common being breed type, metabolic changes related to life stage, poor nutrition, and unbalanced exercise to food ratio.


Is your pet overweight?

Studies suggest that large numbers of pet owners mistakenly take their overweight pet for being a healthy weight. This seems to stem from a combination of owners not being aware of what overweight looks like or a desire to show love for our pets through food and treating behaviour. Unfortunately, this can be a case of “killing with kindness” as pet obesity increases the risk of serious health concerns that can shorten a pet’s life expectancy by 25%. Pet obesity is not just a cosmetic or physical concern, fat cells actually produce hormones that disrupt other chemical signals and can effect and impair normal functions within the body.

Nutrition has the biggest impact on our pet’s body condition and maintaining a healthy weight. It is advantageous to provide our pets with a complete, balanced and high quality diet but it needs to be appropriately paired with their current energy requirements and life stage as their metabolic needs vary throughout life. 

Sadly, this is very easy to get wrong, especially when loving owners confuse “feeding” with “showing love”.

It is natural for pet owners to want to have a bonding experience with their pet using treats as we ourselves enjoy the odd treat. Unfortunately, most treats are given in addition to their normal meals and given often rather than as an occasional “treat”.

An alternate bonding activity comes in the form of petting and play.  In most cases pets would enjoy playing or interacting with their owner just as much as getting a treat! The general recommendation is that dogs need at least an hour of physical activity a day and cats should strive for three 5-minute intense play sessions.

Our pets don’t have the ability to objectively manage their own eating habits, treat behaviour and exercise so it falls to us to take care of this for them. If we provide our pets with good nutrition, healthy exercise, good living conditions, and a large dose of love we can prevent a lot of health concerns that can arise as they go through their life. This keeps them happy and healthy, preserves and strengthens their bond with us and keeps your wallet a little fuller.

How VetsOne can help.

It can be very hard as a pet owner to identify if your animal is a healthy or unhealthy weight as we see them every day. Likewise, it can be very hard to know if the food you are feeding is right for your pet as there are many options on offer of varying quality. This is why it is very important for your pet to attend their annual health check-ups and 6 monthly free dental check-ups as the veterinary professional seeing your pet can assess your pets condition and make nutritional recommendations for you. VetsOne also offers a nurse facilitated weight loss program for overweight pets in the form of our Think Thin Clinic. This offers support and guidance to those owners struggling to get weight off their pets on their own. So, how can we help you, help your pet?