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UK pet owners substitute food for love - are you guilty?

We all know it's wrong to over feed our pets. Often guilt is involved as owners who work donít get the chance to spend time with their pets. This leads to people overcompensating for their absences by giving their dogs titbits and snacks rather than a walk around the block.

Veterinary Surgeon, Dr Eric Jackson, who has been in practise for more than 30 years, has personal experience of seeing obese pets. "Sadly, we're encouraging a nation of overweight and pampered pets. A small dog needs at least thirty minutes exercise a day and a larger dog needs more. It is often said that pets "grow" to become more like their owners. Certainly it is unusual to see a very trim person come in to the surgery with a very overweight pet!"

Like humans, obese dogs and cats lose confidence" says Dr Jackson. "Through no fault of their own, pets are being assigned to daytime TV rather than physical activity, which leads to depression in the long term. Most obese dogs look miserable as they move uncomfortably and slowly. As weight loss occurs it's a delight to see dogs looking less depressed, wagging their tails again."

helpucover.co.uk recommends a vet-designed strict diet and exercise plan for fat pets, to help them slim down to a healthier weight which will improve their life expectancy.

Top tips for avoiding obesity:

  • Feed your pet a balanced diet and follow the recommended feeding guidelines on pet food;
  • Avoid feeding your pets tit bits. If you must give pets occasional treats, take this into account at meal times;
  • Use a smaller feeding bowl if you think that you're in danger of overfeeding your pet;
  • Play with cats to ensure that they are kept active and alert;
  • Don't feed cow's milk to cats or dogs;
  • Animals in hutches such as rabbits and guinea pigs should be given a run out at least once a day;
  • Small animals such as hamsters can benefit from exercise wheels and balls.

Weight gain for pets can lead to:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Heat intolerance
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Lowered resistance to infections
  • Viral infections
  • Spinal problems
  • Skin conditions due to lack of ability to groom
  • Straining of joints
  • Dental problems irritability due to increased discomfort