Managing your pets weight is important to keep them healthy.  Many factors come in to play when considering your pet’s exercise and nutrition.  The experts at Maxi Zoo share their top tips for cats and dogs to guide you as a pet owner.

Obesity in dogs: tips for controlling your dog’s weight

A dog’s body that is too heavy to carry will be heavily stressed. Sooner or later this leads to diseases. Obesity can cause major health problems for your pet. It is therefore important to observe the figure closely in order to recognize possible weight gain early. Race, agility and age, the pet’s physique all play a part in your pet becoming overweight . You know your animal best and should be aware of minor changes.

How do I know if my dog is overweight?

Signs of an overweight dog can be a decrease in the joy of exercise and a loss of stamina. So if your dog gets out of breath faster, ask your veterinarian for advice. You can also feel excess weight on your ribs, which are a good benchmark for your ideal weight. You should be able to feel them easily with the palm of your hand. You should be able to feel the bones under the skin and fur at the base of the tail. In a very thin dog, the hip bumps are clearly visible along the spine.  As a rule of thumb: if you stroke your dog’s chest and can no longer feel his ribs, he seems too thick.

How do I weigh my dog?

Lead your dog calmly and firmly onto the large weighing surface. If your dog is restless and refuses, bring a tasty treat to help. You can visit any of our Maxi Zoo stores and our staff will be happy to help weigh your dog and give you a free consultation on what food would be best for your furry friend.

Consequences of obesity in dogs

Extra weight can make your dog sick quickly. Being overweight puts stress on the joints, weakens the immune system, lung and diaphragm function, and makes you more susceptible to diseases, tumors or allergies. Obesity is also a possible trigger for high blood pressure and diabetes and in the long run damages the heart, kidneys, liver and joints. Imagine if your four-legged friend suddenly has to undergo an operation: Then the previous stress caused by being overweight can be life-threatening for him. If your dog is too heavy, it reduces its quality of life and in the worst case shortens its life expectancy.

Dog diet: what should I feed my pet?

Diet/light foods are very different from normal dog foods and are not intended to be used in healthy dogs. Special diet food should therefore only be used when necessary and you should also consult your vet first.

Deficiency symptoms can occur due to incorrect compositions if the food isn’t right for your pet.  Therefore it’s essential to get a consultation on low calorie food for pets at your local Maxi Zoo store before you introduce it.

In order for your dog to lose weight and build muscle, high quality, low calorie dog food is important. Proteins, vitamins and minerals, calcium, magnesium, taurine and phosphorus must be contained in the right amount. The crude fiber content should be as high as possible and the fat content as low as possible. In a diet for dogs with kidney damage, the diet should be low in protein, low in phosphorus and low in salt. There are also diet treats for the slim line available instore.

My dog refuses light food – what should I do?

Dogs can find it difficult to switch food.  He might take longer to eat it or refuse it completely.  To make the food more appealing, you could microwave the food for a few seconds.  Rather than heating the food, the microwave releases the oils in the food and makes it smell nice so it’s more appealing for your pet.

You could try a different brand of light food but be aware when changing food this must be done gradually to avoid stomach upset.  Always talk to an expert about switching your pet’s food, consultations are free in your local Maxi Zoo store.

Golden Rules for a successful canine diet

The top priority: stay consistent and stick exactly to the diet plan recommended.

Document the diet: take photos of your dog and regularly weigh and record the results on a chart. If your dog has achieved a successful diet you can reward them with a toy.

Everyone has to be on the same page: In order to achieve success, the whole family has to be on the same page and pull together. Family members shouldn’t go soft when your dog is sitting in front of the fridge googly eyed and begging for a treat in between meals.

Tips to keep your dog healthy and fit

Put them on a light food and ensure you are feeding the recommended amount.

Weigh your dog regularly and note any fluctuations.

Adjust the food portions and remember to count treats when planning your pets food for the day.

Always make sure they get enough exercise.

Weight Management in Cats

Cats can be prone to obesity due to a bad diet and not enough exercise.  Indoor cats are particularly at risk as they don’t get as much daily activity as outdoor cats. 

At least 40% of cats in Ireland are overweight.  The reason is usually too much or too high-calorie food with too little physical activity. In rare cases, obesity is caused by a metabolic disorder or medication. Castration or sterilization also reduces the cat’s energy needs and requires less food.

The consequences of being overweight can be diabetes, cardiovascular diseases with shortness of breath or damage to the liver and kidneys. Joint problems such as osteoarthritis and urinary bladder diseases also occur. Obesity also makes everyday life more difficult for your cat: When cleaning, it no longer reaches individual parts of the body and becomes unclean.

It is essential for kittens and young cats to avoid being overweight. An adult house cat weighs between three and five kilograms, depending on sex, breed, size and age. A healthy cat has a light layer of fat on its stomach, chest and ribs. Her waist is clearly visible, but not sunken.

How to tell if your cat is overweight

The belly hangs lower than the chest, is round and wobbles when walking.

The waist is no longer recognizable.

Ribs and vertebrae can no longer be felt under the layer of fat.

How to keep your cat healthy

Before you put your cat on a diet, clarify with their vet that the excess weight has no organic cause. Get a consultation on the best food for your pet in your local Maxi Zoo store.

Encourage your cat to exercise more. House cats in particular should play for two hours a day. Cats are naturally playful. They enjoy creative activities so make play time active and fun.

How to motivate your cat to exercise more

A crackling mouse or a ball awaken the hunting instinct

A cat rod promotes the play instinct

A climbing tree requires skill

Give your cat the opportunity to work out its food by fishing it from different containers.

How to feed your cat on a diet?

Reduce the amount of feed slowly. Because cats reduce their energy needs when they are fed less food, they should have ample opportunity to use up excess energy.

A consistent diet plan will keep you on top of things

Use the exact portion information recommended.

Spread the daily food ration over several meals.

Treats are extra calories. Subtract them from the daily ration.

Cats like to beg at the table, do not reward this behavior.

Which food is useful for a diet?

Dry food is important for your cats dental care. However don’t make it available all day. It contains almost no water and therefore has a high energy density.

Wet Food contains water. Compared to dry food, the cat consumes fewer calories with the same amount of food.

Human food is often unsuitable for cats.  Light foods available in Maxi Zoo stores are particularly suitable for overweight cats and aimed to getting them back to their ideal weight.

How to tell if your cat is underweight

A narrow silhouette is only normal in slender races such as Siamese and Orientals. Otherwise, the following applies: If you can feel the ribs even with slight pressure or if the pelvic bones protrude, you should definitely consult a vet to rule out parasite infestation or kidney diseases.

If you would like more information on your pets diet, call in to your local Maxi Zoo store where our staff will be happy to help.  Find your local shop here.