Vet Notes - Fighting Winter Weight Gain

Here are some key steps to keep our furry companions slim and trim this winter, ensuring they are bikini ready for spring!

 

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STEP 1: Work out an ideal weight and make a long-term plan – visit the vet!

This is more than just a figure (in kilos), body condition score is also important. Vets can advise on this, together with checking that pets are otherwise healthy. Discuss with the vet regarding a sensible exercise and dietary plan.


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STEP 2: Regular exercise and play – to burn off calories and reduce stress!

Regular exercise and playtime are great for both physical and mental health, and not just for pets…humans benefit too!

DOGS

DOGS should have at least twice daily walks, depending on age and health status. Be careful not to suddenly ramp up the walks, just as with humans exercise tolerance needs to be built up over time! Fun and games are also key to keeping the kilos off, examples include interactive toys, playing “fetch” or “hide and seek” using favourite toys or kibbles, or even constructing obstacle courses e.g. slalom courses with buckets, tunnels and low hurdles.

Interactive toys like a Kong filled with peanut butter or treats

Puzzle feeders like Outward Hound can also encourage dogs to exercise

CATS:

Apart from those with access to the great outdoors, most cats in Hong Kong have sedentary lives which can lead to obesity and boredom. So instead of just filling the food bowl twice a day they should be made to “work” for food by placing food bowls in high or hidden places. Alternatively there are numerous puzzle feeders available. Cats also love to jump and chase “prey” which can be mimicked using a variety of toys such as a soft mouse on a string, or by chasing a white light pointer on the wall (but not into their eyes!)

Puzzle feeders like No Bowl or Catit Senses

Soft mouse is one of cats’ favourite toys


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STEP 3: Diet is critical – calories in = calories out!

The timing, amount and type of food are all major factors in obesity.

Do’s
  • Schedule feeding times
  • Weight food according to portion recommended by vet
  • Decrease the amount of food if treats are given during the day
  • Add fresh vegetables to increase fibre (start with small amount to avoid digestive upsets)
  • Ensure ALL family members stick with the diet plan
Don’ts
  • Ad lib feeding
  • “Guesstimate” (this is a recipe for disaster!)
  • Feed large amount of treats (they are high in calorie, equivalent of a fatty meal!)
  • Feed table leftovers
  • Give sneaky snacks or treats out of guilt

*For very obese pets there are specific veterinary weight loss diets to help with the initial weight management e.g. Hill’s Metabolic and Royal Canin Satiety Control.


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STEP 4: Regular weigh-ins and vet checks!

Weekly weigh-ins and regular vet checks are key to chart progress.


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STEP 5: Once lost keep the fat off!

  • The last step but a key one for long-term success.
  • Unfortunately just like with humans when the weight is lost there is a strong tendency to sit back and go back to bad habits. This inevitably leads to piling on the kilos!
  • The key point here is WORK HARD TO LOSE WEIGHT BUT EVEN HARDER TO KEEP IT FROM COMING BACK!
  • With prescription diets, life is a little easier as they tend to have one feeding level for losing weight and one for keeping the weight stable.

Remember obesity is not cute! Overfeeding is not nice…you are literally killing your pet with “kindness”! Show your true love for your furry family members in 2021 by letting them lead a happier, healthier, slimmer and more active life!