Updated: Apr 20, 2021
In this blog we will explore how our Cats and Dogs may have put on weight over lockdown and discuss how we can start reducing their weight.
Impact of Lockdown
Lockdown has had a huge impact upon our exercise and eating habits. And this has had a large and worrying impact on many of our pets health and well being too.
The amount of physical stimulation we have been giving our pets has decreased drastically over the lockdown period. As we adhere to the lockdown guidelines our pets exercise frequency has reduced drastically. Research suggests that on average dogs have increased their body weight by 6lbs. Cats have also increased their body weight on average by 3lbs too.
As we remained at home, we often provided our pets with a few more treats and pets being the intelligent little beings that they are, have now adapted their behaviour to profit from our generosity. Your lovable furry friends have learnt to gaze adoringly into your eyes and beg far more than ever before. Oliver Twist and Fagin (ask your parents) would be proud of my dog as she wonders over wagging, sits gazing at me and nuzzles me for attention. It’s so hard to resist spoiling her – which is fine (depending on the type and
volume of the treat). However, where the issue lies is when we have an increase in food volume and the frequency of snacking combined with a decrease in the amount of exercise we provide for our pets. As with humans, if the amount going in does not equal the amount going out (being burnt during exercise) then alarm bells may start to ring (or bellies start wobbling!).
Approximately 65% of dogs and 45% of cats in the U.K. are currently overweight? And this statistic will surely have of increased during lockdown. It is one of the fastest growing health issues affecting pets and one we must address quickly.
Dog Dads seem to have the heaviest pets, with the average male owner revealing their pet has put on nine pounds in a year, in comparison to six pounds in pups owned by women.
Regional differences have also become clear in pet weight gain, with dogs living in London having the largest increase of half a stone. Meanwhile, dogs in Yorkshire and East Anglia saw the lowest increase of five pounds.
Strategies to improve your pets weight
Divide food into 3 or 4 meals a day
If you can spread your pets meals out evenly throughout the day it will help your pet stay fuller for longer. It will help regulate blood sugars and also prevent the urge to provide small, often unhealthy treats too. However, this may be an issue for working parents/ owners so do what you can. Maybe target weekends to trial new feeding routines and monitor your pets behaviour
Feed a reduced calorie food or simply less of it
Cutting back on your pet’s usual food and reducing treats may be sufficient for pets who only need to make a small adjustment to their weight. But careful management is needed for those who need to lose large amounts of weight because a greater reduction in food could lead to depriving them of essential nutrients, which in turn can lead to them to becoming hungry and increasing their begging behaviours. Switching to a diet which
includes vegetables, high fibre and slow release carbohydrates are recommended. Foods rich in lean meats (Turkey, Salmon) are also great as protein can be used to replace some carbohydrates and will make your pet feel fuller for longer. If your dog or cat is obese then you should consult your vet practice to discuss their dietary requirements and work together to create a plan to support your pet which fits into your lifestyle, time and budget.
Gradually increase regular exercise
Exercise your dog to a level that is appropriate for its size, age, breed, health, and ability. Consult your vet practice if you are unsure of how much your pet should be able to do. Please also consider what you as a pet owner can manage. It may be worth exploring the
use of local dog walkers if you feel you would like to challenge your dog a little more whilst providing them with more social interaction too. With cats you can begin with 2 minutes of exercise twice a day. Exercise can be in any form, from playing with soft toys to hiding healthy snacks around the house and guiding your cat to them. For example placing dried salmon strips on top of table tops which require your cat to jump up and down etc. Doggy exercise does not always need to be in the form of walks either. Simple throw and retrieve games are a great way to exercise your dog as well as hide, search and find games in the garden or around the house.
Use ‘slow down bowls’ and interactive feeders
Weigh food daily
This is a great way to ensure portion sizes are consistent and also that you are in control of your pets eating habits. Weigh out each portion and then store for daily use.
Finally - take a look at this. What do you think, is the Pet Climbing Frame and Treadmill the future? I hope not.....lets stick to the simple forms of exercise which wont break the bank, which can be done together or with the family and which are fun.
In May, Guide Dogs is launching The Walk Your Socks Off challenge. You can visit the website here to register.
Take at look at our other blog posts and take a browse around our website. Thank you for taking the time to drop in. Phil and Tim