PDSA shares tips to maintain pets weight

The festive season was a time of joy and celebration and it is often paired with lots of scrumptious snacks. Pet-lovers tend to want to share the indulgence of tasty treats, especially when pooches give the ‘puppy dog eyes’, and will often give in to four-legged friends and offer extra food.

Make sure your pet maintains a healthy weight (photo: Adobe)
Make sure your pet maintains a healthy weight (photo: Adobe)

On the back of National Obesity Awareness Week, which has just past, PDSA vet Nurse, Nina Downing, shares top tips for recognising whether your pet is the correct weight.

Nina said: “While it can be hard to resist the gaze of our four-legged friends, it’s important to ensure we don’t overfeed our pets. Being a healthy weight and shape will improve your pet’s quality of life as they can enjoy walks and activity which, in turn, improves their mental health and it can delay the onset of long-term diseases, helping them to live longer. If your pets have had a treat-filled festive season, it’s important to recognise if they have gained some extra weight around the edges.”

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How to recognise if your pet is a healthy shape

Ensure your pet is not obese (photo: Adobe)

Your pet’s body shape will give you an idea of whether they’re carrying too much weight. You can find this out by doing a simple check at home, called a ’body condition score’.

Take a good look and feel of your dog, cat, or rabbit’s body – the following will help you tell if they are a healthy weight:

The skin should move freely over the ribs, which you should be able to feel with a light touch.

Run your hands along your pet’s back. You should be able to feel the spine and hipbones under the skin without being able to see them - they shouldn’t be sticking out.

Feel under your pet’s tummy, it should go in, not bulge out.

Look at your pet from the side and from above. You should be able to see a waist. If not, your dog, cat, or rabbit may be overweight.

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Knowing your pet’s body condition score helps you to identify if they need to lose some weight, put some on, or if they’re the perfect weight, but it’s also important to know your pet’s current weight. Together with their body condition score, you can then work out what their ideal weight should be for their breed, build, and size. Once you know the weight that they should be, you have something to aim for and, by making sure you weigh them regularly, you can quickly spot if their weight changes, and then tweak their diet and exercise to correct it. You can visit your vet and ask them if you can use their scales to weigh larger dogs, but small dogs, cats, and rabbits can be weighed at home quite easily using bathroom scales.

Nina added: “ Throughout February and March 2023, we’ll be encouraging pet owners to have their pets weighed, and their body condition scored, at their local vets to help guide them to a healthy weight.”

PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing answers all your pet questions

Expert advice on all your pet problems is given by PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing.

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Dear PDSA vet, my cat, Otto, has cloudy eyes and sometimes has discharge coming out of one eye. What should I do? From Phoebe

Hi Phoebe, there are a few different reasons for Otto’s issues with his eyes including injury, infection, pressure change, or even an illness in another part of the body, for example diabetes. These problems can present themselves in many different ways but to prevent further damage and potential loss of vision, we’d recommend Otto gets checked over by a vet. In the meantime, help him by wiping away any discharge when you see it with a clean, dry cloth.

Dear PDSA vet, my dog, Peanut, keeps nibbling at his feet, when I checked they are sore and red inside his paws. How can I help him? From Bradley

Hi Bradley, this sounds like it could be very irritating for Peanut. It could be Dermatitis which is when dogs have red, inflamed, angry looking skin, or a rash – it should always be checked over by a vet to rule out anything more serious, but in most cases it can easily be treated. It may be that Peanut has a skin infection or an allergy, or it could be a sign of fleas or other parasites. Some dogs lick persistently because of stress or boredom, so make sure Peanut’s got plenty to keep him occupied and keep his mind off his paw. Remember to be careful when taking a closer look at Peanut’s paws because they may be painful, so be gentle and calm with him.

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Dear PDSA vet, my daughter got a craft set for Christmas and unfortunately decided to test out their safety scissors on our cat – by giving him a whisker cut on one side! I’ve told her off, but will Lulu be ok? From Jess

Hi Jess, whiskers are special hairs that are a very important part of a cat’s senses.

They are quite stiff compared to other hairs, and they are connected to a cat’s muscles and nerves, which directly send information to the sensory system, helping cats to react to any changes in their surroundings, cleverly judging distance and space. Fortunately, cats’ whiskers are constantly growing, falling out, and being replaced which means that your cat’s whiskers will re-grow. As this can take a while, Lulu may feel more vulnerable and not want to go outside until they grow back, so provide plenty of toys and litter trays indoors.

Dear PDSA Vet, my rabbit, Snowdrop, really enjoys her food, but I’ve noticed she has started to gain weight. What would you recommend to help her slim down? From Clara

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Obesity is a serious condition that can lead to health problems, so it’s really important to ensure Snowdrop maintains a healthy weight. Toys also help rabbits to stay entertained and active.