A veterinary practice is offering expert help to north Cumbria’s growing army of roly-poly pets….
Cats and dogs are apparently prey to all the usual medical complications that can afflict overweight humans- and there is evidence that they are suffering because of a surge in obesity.
But the Paragon practice in Dalston, near Carlisle, has recently become an accredited pet Weight Management Centre – one of only 10 in the country.
Paragon’s deputy head veterinary nurse Sam Holliday, who runs the clinics, said that since September of last year, the centre had helped about 50 pets – 15 cats and 35 dogs, all suffering weight problems.
The PDSA Animal Welfare charity last year reported that a third of all dogs and a quarter of all cars are overweight or obese.
‘This is a problem we see regularly’ said Sam, ‘Unfortunately when you see a dog walking down the street it’s normal to see ones that are overweight because so many people don’t recognise what the right body shape should be.’
‘We had a little dog in 6 months ago whuch was diabetic due to obesity; and we have seen dogs and cats with joint and heart problems due to their weight. Why are so many pets overweight?
‘Often, it’s a case of owners killing them with kindness. There are a lot of high calorie treats available nowadays.
‘People often don’t realise that if they hand these out they should knock down the normal amount of food they give their pet.
‘Another reason is lack of exercise, some owners, because of their lifestyle and being too busy, don’t take their dogs far enough on walks as they need to go and more cats are overweight because they are house cats.
‘People are worried about letting them out because of the roads so they don’t exercise as much as cats used to.’
The practice’s clinic offers free weight assessments of pets – and lots of practical help, guidance and nutritional advice.
Sam added ‘Instead of a treat, owners can give their pets a different reward – perhaps a toy or a cuddle. We can come up with exercise plans depending on how heavily the pet is overweight.’
‘It can be short burst walks, right down to a tailored programme for individuals pets.’
‘It’s hard to have an overall plan because individual needs are always different.’