Has Your Pet Gained Weight?
What is the 'fat gap' for pets?
If you've ever felt shocked or confused when the vet comments on your pet's weight, you may be experiencing a familiar feeling amongst dog and cat owners known as the 'fat gap'. This phenomenon is the difference between our perception of our pet's weight and potential obesity risk and our vets' professional assessments.
How did the ‘fat gap’ start?
This term was first coined by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. While their annual pet obesity surveys have been put on hold since 2019 due to restrictions, one of their previous reports showed the significant discrepancy within the 'fat gap'. Only 19% of pet owners thought their pets were overweight or obese, while professional vet assessments showed the figures, in reality, were well over 50% for both dogs and cats.
How did the pandemic affect your pet?
According to Hill's Pet Nutrition and Kelton Global, in a November 2020 survey, about halfway through the pandemic, 33% of pet owners noticed their pets gained weight due to the extended time at home. Much like humans, this can be attributed to under-exercising, eating more than usual out of boredom, and spending less time in the garden as more pet owners were at home than ever before.
What are vets saying about your pet’s weight?
Hill's and Kelton also spoke to a group of veterinarians, who observed that only 12% of pet owners had shown concern about their dog or cat gaining weight. Meanwhile, nearly 65% of pet owners negatively reacted to being advised their pet had gained weight throughout lockdowns.
What can you do if your pet is overweight?
- Talk to the experts
When making any health-focused changes to your pet's lifestyle, getting a professional opinion should always be the first step.
- Find out your pet’s target weight
While a few extra kilos are not inherently dangerous for your pet, depending on their size and breed, some will be more susceptible to health issues as a result of weight gain than others.
- Feed them a measured, high-quality diet
Choosing a healthy and nutritious pet food can be tricky – pet owners are often confused by the 'right' or 'wrong' choice – so a vet-recommended solution will be the best option. They’ll be able to help you pick out the best brand, as well as the perfect amount to put in your pet’s dish each day.
- Start slow
Your vet can advise you on healthy exercise strategies and routines to slowly bring your dog or cat's weight down to a healthy level without causing them stress or discomfort.
- Enjoy the sunshine
Now that lockdowns are easing and Summer is approaching, celebrate by spending some well-earned time outside with your pet! Whether you visit the park, travel far away from home, or even enjoy a simple walk, this will help them de-stress and get (you both!) back into being active.
- Get protected!
While exploring new environments and getting back into exercise will be incredible for your pet’s wellbeing, it’s important to keep them protected from any nasties that have been biding their time during lockdowns. Parasites like fleas, ticks, and intestinal worms or heartworm will cause your pet discomfort and put their health at risk. So, to make the most of your time together outdoors, keep your pet happy, healthy, and safe with Pet Lovers Club's personalised and vet-recommended monthly parasite protection!