Half of our pets 'overweight'

By Genevieve Helliwell

Too many cats and dogs in the Bay are fat and suffering serious health issues - and the problem is getting worse.

Veterinarian Kate Heller said more than half the cats and dogs seen at Te Puna Vets were overweight.

"Some are only a little bit overweight, but for some animals it's a serious problem," she said.

Dogs that carry too much weight can suffer mobility and joint problems, heart problems and organ damage, while heavier cats can develop diabetes.

The clinic has set up a Pet Fit programme in which pets go on a low-calorie high-fibre diet and have their weight measured monthly. The clinic also planned to form a weekly pet walking group.

Jane Mckay, of Papamoa Beach Veterinary Clinic, who has been a veterinary nurse for 22 years, said the number of overweight cats she had seen had doubled in the past five years.

She advised owners to stick to feeding guidelines: "Look at the packet of food and weigh out how much you should be feeding them rather than feeding ad lib."

Obesity in dogs was an ongoing problem but easier to control as they were not grazers like cats and could be exercised, she added.

Veterinarian Alice Anderson, of Bayfair Veterinary Hospital, agreed obesity in pets, particularly cats, was on the rise.

She estimated an increase of a third over the past 10 years and attributed it to higher-density housing limiting cats' territories.

An increase in pedigree cats also contributed to the problem as many people kept them inside out of fear they would be stolen.

At VetCare Tauranga, vets saw fat cats and dogs every day, said practice manager Anita Fellows.

"It's an ongoing problem that doesn't seem to fluctuate. About half of the animals we see are overweight," she said.

Te Puke woman Jane Pordon established 4 Wet Paws, a hydrotherapy facility, last October to help overweight dogs and provide rehabilitation after surgery.

"Hydrotherapy is ideal for overweight animals, absolutely. It's zero impact so it won't put any pressure on joints or bones and it's great for dogs with mobility issues," she said.

The solution

  • See your vet

  • Put your pet on a diet

  • Exercise them

  • Weigh them regularly

  • A healthy cat should be 4kg - 6kg

  • Healthy dogs should have a waist

  • You should be able to feel ribs but not see them

Source: Tauranga vets

- Bay of Plenty Times

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