Nutrition and a a Natural Diet for Overweight Pets
By Fiona Campbell - Burns Pet Nutrition – Trained Nutritionist
Although it is estimated that a third to half of all dogs in the UK are overweight. At Burns we find that many owners we meet or talk to do not realise that their pet’s health may benefit by losing a few pounds.
Of course feeding the correct diet at the correct amount is important. Therefore it is important to look for adult maintenance diets which are low in fat and could be considered ‘lite’ diets. However, for overweight dogs, we recommend a higher fibre, low fat food such as Burns High Oats which should help the dog feel fuller for longer whilst aiding weight loss.
Owners should feed the amount recommended for the dogs target weight not the actual weight.
Many cats are overweight due to their sedentary lifestyle. Encouraging exercise by playing with your cat is important as a way of burning calories. If your cat is allowed outside you should also check that your neighbours are not feeding it. Some cats visit several households and eat at every single one! A low fat diet is important here but the feeding amounts are also paramount.
Many cats are fed ‘ad lib’ but free feeding often allows the cat to pick at the food through boredom rather than hunger. Set mealtimes are best for controlling their intake of calories. If you have a multi-cat household it can be difficult to feed one cat separately.
Burns Real Food for Cats (available with chicken and ocean fish) are diets which contain controlled levels of protein and fat. They are hypo-allergenic and suitable for cats with sensitive skin or cats prone to digestive upsets so all of your cats can be fed on the same food. If your cat is unable to exercise including jumping it may also help to feed the overweight cat on the floor and the other cats on a shelf or ledge.
It is estimated that a third of pet rabbits are overweight. This may be due to a lack of exercise as well as an unsuitable diet. Many hutches are far too small and do not allow the rabbit space to move around. Rabbits should be allowed several hours a day of exercise in a run or in a ‘rabbit-proofed’ house. The run should include plenty of ramps, boxes and tunnels to encourage activity including jumping which is excellent exercise for the skeleton.
Unfortunately, many pet rabbits are eating a diet which promotes weight gain. Owners often believe that the dry pelleted or museli based foods are the most important part of the diet.
However, hay and grass should form the bulk of the diet, followed by vegetables (especially green leafy veg) and wild plants.
The pellets or museli type dry foods are usually high in fat and low in fibre and they should be kept to a minimum. If you have an overweight rabbit or house-rabbit you might be able to wean out these dry foods completely. Burns Real Food for Rabbits is a range of products based on high fibre hay and dried wild plants. Please ask the Burns Nutritionists for more advice on feeding your rabbit.
With overweight dogs, cats and rabbits you should consider throwing away the feeding bowls. There are several feeding toys available for all three species which allow the pet to work for its food. Some of these toys include balls or cubes which when rolled release one or two pieces of food at a time. This makes feeding more fun and helps burn calories as the animal moves around. You may also consider scattering the dog food around the garden to encourage foraging or hiding pieces of vegetable under the hay for rabbits to sniff out as a fun activity.
Owners of overweight pets can speak to one of the Burns Nutritionists for support and advice on FREEPHONE: 0800 083 66 96.
Burns Pet Nutrition is developed by Veterinary Surgeon John Burns, a family run business who supports independent pet shops and businesses.
You will not find Burns stocked in any supermarket store and we would recommend you to try Burns from your local pet shop.
To search for your nearest Burns Stockist click here, and you can also buy online
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