A vet’s warning for pet owners this Pancake Day

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Imagine eating 11 pancakes in one sitting – well that’s exactly what your precious pooch* is doing every time you give them just one cube of cheese according to PDSA.

It comes as a warning to pet owners this Pancake Day as part of the leading vet charity’s ‘Big Weigh In’ campaign which aims to tackle obesity in pets.

“We all love a treat and I’m certainly looking forward to my pancake this Pancake Day,” says PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing. “But while it’s tempting to share titbits with our four-legged friends, especially when they give us those pleading eyes, it’s important to understand that what we see as a small treat could actually be a huge amount of calories for our pets.

“For example, 30% of dog owners regularly give their dogs cheese*, but just one cube of cheese is the equivalent of 11 pancakes to a small dog, six to a medium dog, and 3.5 to a large-sized dog. So what originally may have seemed a harmless little treat, actually equates to more than 110 extra calories, which is over 30% of a small dog’s daily calorific requirement.”

The veterinary charity is working with Royal Canin to tackle the pet obesity crisis in the UK. Throughout February and March, pet owners can book in for free weight checks at participating vet practices across the country.

There are more than 500 practices signed up. Pet owners can find their local participating vet practice and book their free appointment here: pdsa.org.uk/WeighUp

“Overweight pets are more likely to suffer from health problems such as diabetes and urinary tract disease,” adds Nina. “Carrying excess fat can also worsen other health problems – such as arthritis and breathing difficulties – as well as increase anaesthetic and surgical risks, all of which could negatively affect your pet’s quality of life.

“That’s why we’re urging all pet owners to get involved in the PDSA Big Weigh In this year and let us help you to help your pet.

“If your pets have had a treat-filled festive season, it’s important to recognise if they have gained some extra weight and to help them get back to better health.

“It can feel like a big challenge to get a pet to lose weight, but trust us, it’s worth it and isn’t that difficult (I promise!). Once your pet has reached their ideal size and shape, they will be healthier, happier and more active. They will also have the best chance of living a long, energetic and comfortable life.”

How to tell if your dog needs to lose weight  

Looking at your dog’s shape is the best way to tell if they’re putting on weight. Dogs come in all different builds and sizes but a healthy shape is the same for every dog:

  • Look at your dog from the side and from above. They should have a neat, tucked in waist.
  • Feel under your dog’s tummy. It should go in, not bulge out.
  • Feel along your dog’s back and sides. You should be able to easily feel their ribs, spine and hips but they shouldn’t poke out.
  • Feel the base of your dog’s tail. You shouldn’t be able to feel a build-up of fat where their tail meets their body.

Different ways to exercise your dog  

Varying your dog’s exercise routine is an excellent way to keep their mind and body healthy. If you’re looking for inspiration, why not try some of the following:

  • Walking should be part of every dog’s daily routine to keep them physically and mentally healthy. Most dogs need at least 1-2 walks per day (unless otherwise specified by your vet).
  • Swimming is a great option if your dog likes the water, and as an added benefit, it’s very easy on their joints. Whether it’s in a pool, the sea, a river, or a lake, make sure you follow water safety advice to keep your pooch safe.
  • Running is a great way to stay healthy with your four-legged friend – just make sure that their breed suits an athletic workout and if it does, that you introduce them to it slowly. To begin with, try short bursts of gentle jogging throughout your normal walk, then gradually build up to longer stretches.
  • Play should be part of every dog’s daily routine. While it doesn’t replace a good walk, playing a game is a simple but effective way to keep your dog happy and active. The type of games your dog enjoys will depend on their breed and personality – they might want to chase and retrieve a toy, play tug of war, hide and seek, or sniff out their favourite toy in a scent game.
  • Agility is a fun way to exercise your dog, especially if they have an active mind and love a challenge. It involves training your dog to complete an obstacle course containing hurdles, tunnels and even seesaws.
  • Flyball involves your dog running through an obstacle course and releasing a ball, which they then need to catch – it’s a great sport for dogs with lots of energy and/or an active brain. Flyball isn’t a good sport for very heavy dogs, or dogs with joint problems, so it’s important to speak to your vet before starting your dog at a class.
  • Training: Training should be a part of every dog’s daily routine. It helps keep your dog’s mind active, reinforces commands, prevents boredom, and is a great way to bond.

*According to the 2022 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, the UK’s largest annual nationally representative assessment of pet wellbeing.


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