RSPCA encourage a healthy start to 2019 for our pets

Animal welfare charity says ‘new year new you’ can be for pets too.

To coincide with National obesity Awareness Week in the UK, the RSPCA is urging pet owners to consider their pets’ health and diet this year.

At this time of year many people start to think about healthy diets, whether they can kick bad habits – and it can be the same for our pets. National Obesity Awareness Week starts today (14 January) and the RSPCA asks owners to make sure their pets are as healthy as they can be.

Caroline Allen, Chief Veterinary Officer at the RSPCA said: “In the spirit of ‘new year new you’ lots of people are thinking about diets, wellness and keeping those new year’s resolutions – so it’s a perfect opportunity to think about your pet too.

“Giving our pets a balanced diet is really important for their health and wellbeing and ensuring they have regular exercise is key in making sure our pets are happy and healthy. If you are taking on an exercise challenge this January, why not take your dog along for a walk or jog, if you are cutting out chocolate and cakes, why not think about reducing how many treats our pets are eating.

“It’s important to realise what your pet needs to keep them healthy, such as a balanced diet and exercise. Regular exercise is good for the mental and physical well-being of pets and their owners too and is just one of the many positive benefits of having a pet.”

Sadly, the RSPCA has seen a growing rise in pets with obesity related problems, such as diabetes. This is mostly as a result of their lifestyle, including diet and exercise.

The animal welfare charity advise that it’s important to ensure your dog or cat eats a diet suitable for their age, lifestyle and health status and that they are fed at least twice each day, unless advised otherwise by a vet.

If you are unsure what the best diet for your pet is it’s a good idea to speak to your vet for advice. Any changes to your pet’s diet should be made gradually to avoid an upset stomach.

Caroline added: “If you do think your pet may be overweight or suffering from a health problem related to their weight then your vet can help with diet advice and support and appropriate testing. Diabetes is one of the most common conditions caused by pets being overweight. If you are concerned your pet has diabetes, the key is not to panic, but to make an appointment with your vet.”

Caroline advises that signs of diabetes include:

  • Drinking more frequently
  • Weight loss
  • Appearing lethargic
  • Urinating more frequently, for example, not lasting overnight when they could before.

“If your pet shows any of these signs, consult your vet for advice. If the condition is left untreated it can result in more serious, life threatening illnesses,” says Caroline.

“Some relatively simple tests can tell if your pet does have diabetes and medication and diet are changes are usually required. Taking along a urine sample to your pet’s appointment is really helpful.

“Although this can seem daunting for some owners there is a lot of advice available through your vet, and veterinary nurses can be a great point of contact for owners who are treating a pet with diabetes. There are also various aids to managing treatment that your vet can recommend, from charts to phone apps.”