Top Tips to support your pets healthy weight management
We know pet obesity is a key issue right now and so we’ve pulled together top tips from our experts to help support your pets weight loss journey. Together we can combat the challenges surrounding pet obesity and ensure our furry friends get the love and support they need to thrive.
Know your starting point…
A healthy weight can vary between breeds and species, and you need to know what’s ideal for your pet type. Typically, you should weigh your dog or cat in kilos and keep this figure in your pet’s health file as a clear starting point.
Calculate exact calories…
You need to know how many calories your dog or cat requires in order to maintain a healthy balance; consider age, weight, activity level and breed type amongst other things. Feeding guides on food packages are just that, a guide. Your pet’s feeding amount may need to be adjusted to support their individual requirements. The team at your local veterinary clinic will be able to help determine your pet's ideal body weight and energy requirements.
Provide a good quality diet…
A nutritious diet can make a huge difference in your pet’s lifelong health and happiness. Nutrition not only impacts your pets’ weight, but also contributes to healthy digestion, strong bones and a beautiful coat. Precisely balanced nutrition is key to any pet’s weight management journey.
Make sure you measure meals…
Many pet owner’s simply ‘guestimate’ when it comes to feeding both dogs and cats the right amount. Weighing out your pet’s food is the most accurate way to measure their food, but using the measuring cup provided by the manufacturer can also keep you on the right track. The feeding guide on the pack will provide you with a good starting point. Alternatively, your veterinary health care team or manufacturers helpline can help you determine the ideal amount to be feeding your pet.
Free Feeding your cat or dog can result in an ‘all-day buffet’ with owners constantly keeping the pet bowl full, and whilst you may think you’re keeping your pet happy, you may be contributing to those extra kilos through too much readily available kibble.
Try to switch out ‘treats…’
Don’t feed table scraps to your pet, especially if they are trying to lose weight. It might seem like a little ‘here and there’ but for some pets it can be the equivalent of a whole meal. In human calorie terms, 28 g of cheddar cheese is the equivalent of 1.5 burgers for your 9 kg dog or 3.5 burgers for your 4.5 kg cat!
Instead, get into the habit of rewarding good behaviour with fun not with food. Pay your pet extra attention and affection with more cuddles, walks or playtime.
Use food as a way to nourish body and mind...
Many pets will overeat when they are bored. Puzzle feeders or treat balls can be used to help keep your pet mentally active and slow down their eating habits by making them work for their food.
Prioritise an exercise plan …
For dogs, look at simple ways to increase their exercise. Maybe it’s possible to add a couple of extra walks a week or increase the length of your daily walk. Or maybe you can change the route so they are exercising more intensely - going up hills or stairs are great to burn calories. Another great option is to find games they like such as fetch so that you both enjoy these daily exercise sessions.
For cats, simple games such as “hunting” the light can encourage them to move more. Simply shine a torch on the floor and walls and the natural movement will encourage your pet to chase it. For cats that love their food, puzzle feeders and dividing the meal around the house can encourage more movement whilst they eat - in fact you can actually teach your cat to hunt for their food by hiding it around the house.
Make it a family affair...
Ensure that everyone involved in your pet’s care is aware of any changes to diet, exercise or health regime. That way, it will be a lot easier for your pet to keep to their required plan and you will be more likely to stay on track as everyone can join together, to encourage a healthier lifestyle.
Know what’s normal…
It is important to have a base understanding of what is normal when it comes to the weight and size of your pet, just like you would do with your own body. Make sure you are regularly performing health checks and you know signs to look out for. Unexpected or sudden weight loss or weight gain could be an indicator of underlying disease and a good reason to check in with your vet.
Take it slowly…
At the end of the day, healthy weight management for your cat or dog is a lifestyle change. Remember there is no quick fix and that nothing happens overnight. But by looking at the diet and exercise regime of your pets, you can help keep them healthy and happy for many years to come.
Here to help with your pets
We all love our dogs and cats and try our best to make their daily lives happy and healthy. But if you’re a new pet parent, it can be hard to know how to look after your beloved friend the right way. At Hill's Pet Nutrition Australia, we are committed to ending pet obesity, so all pets can live long, healthy lives with their beloved families.
We’ve put together further tips and advice from our pet experts including more resources and education on pet weight management, dog obesity, cat obesity and exercise.
*2014 Pet Obesity Study. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
***November 2020 online survey surrounding pet obesity conducted for Hill's Pet Nutrition USA by Kelton Global, among 1,021 U.S. dog and cat owners and 257 veterinarians. Statistics refer to USA yet may be indicative of current national trends across Australia.
****2019 Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people. Animal Medicines Australia.
****2018 Pet Obesity Study. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
**Data was sourced from Google Keyword Planner to perform own bespoke research based on over 4000 keyword terms and 7.6 million Google searches to identify changes in search behaviour around pet obesity due to current climate. Hill’s Pet Nutrition Australia’s study identified search volumes around pet adoption, pet obesity, pet weight management, pet exercise as well as dog and cat terms to highlight current behaviours and key questions surrounding topic area.
The study collated searches from January 2019 – December 2020 to provide a YoY comparison. December 2020 was the latest month of data available and all data is correct and representative at time of analysis. The data relates only to search term volume, which may not correlate to actual thoughts of the nation. We can, however, draw the conclusion that the rise in search terms may be indicative of intent.