Pets battle the bulge

Patty, an overweight kelpie
Patty, an overweight kelpie Contributed

SHEDDING some kilos is a popular New Year's resolution but people should look in their own backyards - at their pets - when weighing up their goals for 2012.

While many people are battling the bulge, a Mackay veterinarian estimates about one in four of the region's cats and dogs have their own weight issues.

Some are weighing in at around twice their ideal weight.

Better Pet Vets veterinarian Ashley Young said about 25% of the cats and dogs that came to his clinic were overweight - and alarmingly about 50% of their owners didn't think their pet was fat.

"We've had cats up to 9.6kgs - cats should be between four and five kilos," he said.

"There are quite a lot of dogs which are 20% overweight and some are 40% overweight."

Overweight and obese cats and dogs is a weighty issue right across the state.

RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said many overweight animals - particularly cats, dogs and mice - had come to the organisation's attention over the years.

One of those dogs was Patty, the kelpie-cross, which weighed in at a whopping 52kg last year.

The pooch has since slimmed down.

Mr Young said overweight pets were more prone to diabetes, arthritis, ligament and tendon injuries, spinal disc disease and respiratory and heart difficulties.

He said community perceptions about weight had changed so much that a dog or a pet that was the correct body weight actually looked skinny.

"Owners are also keen to suggest that their pet is 'not fat, just fluffy', which is rarely the case," he said.

Dr Young has some simple tips for pet owners who wanted their four-legged friends to shed some pounds.

He said treats should be swapped for low-calorie options like carrot sticks.

People should also reward their pets with playtime, rather than food, and make a commitment to playing with their dog or cat each day.


The fat test for pets

  • Run your fingers over the ribs of your dog or cat. The skin should move easily back and forth and you should be able to feel the ribs readily.
  • Your pet should have a definite waste at the back of the rib cage.
  • If your pet fails either of these tests it is overweight.

Topics:  exercise fat obesity overweight pets weight loss

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