This year, your new year’s resolutions might include spending extra time with your best mate – exercising, playing games and having fun together. The summer holidays are the perfect time to enjoy the company of your favourite furry companion.

Healthy ways to keep your pet in shape

When looking at your pet’s health, it’s good to start with their weight, diet and exercise habits. Pet obesity is a growing problem in Australia. Like their owners, Australian pets are becoming heavier and heavier. Almost half our dogs and one third of the cats in Australia are overweight or even obese.

These tips will help you identify if your pet has a weight problem, plus some simple ways to tackle it.

Why is pet obesity a problem?

Being overweight has a negative impact on your dog or cat’s health, with studies showing that overweight pets can even have their life expectancy reduced by as much as two years. Overweight animals are more at risk of suffering from heat stroke (especially during summer), as well as diabetes, mobility problems such as arthritis, and even cancer.

Dog weight management tips

How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

While your dog’s ideal size and weight will vary by breed and other factors, there are some things you can check to determine if your dog is overweight. Generally, you should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs, with a slight fat coverage over them. Looking at them from the top or from the sides, you should notice that their body tucks in at the waist. There are some factors which can make a dog more likely to become overweight, for example desexed females are often at a higher risk of being overweight, as are dogs whose owners are fuller-figured. For a better understanding of the perfect weight range and condition score for your dog, book an appointment with your local Greencross Vets team.

Book a vet

What should my dog eat?

It can be very easy to overfeed a dog, especially if you are soft-hearted and give in to the adorable eyes of your loved pet and try to demonstrate your love for them through food. Dogs are usually eager to please you and will often eat all the food you put in front of them, regardless of whether they’re already full or not. Use the guides available on most pet food packaging to understand the recommended amounts to feed your dog so that they can achieve and maintain an ideal weight. Petbarn has a range of quality dog food brands, including ranges that are specifically formulated to help dogs lose weight. If you notice that your dog is scarfing down their food too quickly, you can try using a slow feeding bowl which helps them lose weight as they’ll eat less and feel fuller for longer. And, while treats can be useful for training and behaviour purposes, it is important not to give your dog treats too frequently. Reserve treats for rewarding good behaviour and make sure that these only account for 10% of their daily food intake.

How should I exercise my dog?

In addition to eating right, regular exercise is also an important component of keeping your dog in shape. Many dogs will need to be walked twice a day, so you’re not able to provide them with this exercise, you’ll need to limit their daily food intake so that you can balance the calories coming in with the energy they’re burning off. You can also encourage your dog to exercise with toys and games, such as balls or frisbees. Some dogs enjoy regular games of tug-of-war with specially designed rope toys.

Cat weight management tips

How should I manage my cat’s weight?

It can often be difficult for cats, especially those that only live indoors, to maintain an ideal weight. If you are worried that your cat is overweight, please check in with your local Greencross Vets. Like dogs, you should be able to feel your cat’s ribs easily and see a waistline. If you have any concerns, make sure to talk to your Greencross veterinarian about your cat’s weight and body condition to ensure they’re healthy. If your cat needs to lose weight, it’s probably best to start by changing their diet and be aware that sometimes progress can be slow. Your local Petbarn stocks a number of special cat foods designed for weight management so ask a team member or your local Greencross Vets team for a recommendation. Make sure that you are feeding your cat a suitable amount of food by checking the feeding guide on the packaging. If your cat has a tendency to roam, make sure they are not getting fed by neighbours – outdoor cats are notorious for accepting multiple meals from different households.

How should I exercise my cat?

Cats should be encouraged to exercise, even if they are indoors. Petbarn has lots of equipment designed for cats, such as gyms and tunnels which can help keep your cat fit and healthy. Many cats also love toys such as balls and wand toys to play with. If your yard is secure, encourage your cats to explore the outdoors with a variety of climbing apparatuses.