New Year Resolutions
January 2013 has come around frighteningly fast and I sit here wondering what I will try to accomplish in 2013. Healthy eating and lifestyle balance come foremost to my mind, so I will resolve to make sure I look after myself by eating well, achieve only a moderate intake of the lovely chocolates and home baked goods that
my wonderful clients sent to us for Christmas and exercise by walking to and from work each day (unless it is 32 degrees like it was this morning at 8 am).
I then sat wondering whether people make similar resolutions about their pet’s diet and lifestyle. Do you make new years resolutions for your pet? Do they involve weight loss? If so, we might be able to help you there.
Lets talk about weight management then. A resolution that could make a huge impact on the long term health of a pet is to reduce their weight. Many domestic pets are overweight and weight loss will improve their ability to cope with the hot summer weather. They will be happier, and healthier.
First you need to recognise that your pet is somewhat chubby. Coming in for a weight check is a good first step. The practiced eye of our veterinary nurses can help you decide if a weight loss program is a good idea and then help you formulate a plan.
The equation is simple when it comes to weight loss. Put less calories in (food) and increase the calories being expended (exercise). The emphasis is about 80% diet vs 20% exercise when it comes to weight loss. We see a lot of pets that get exercised 2 or 3 hours a day but are still overweight – they are simply being fed too much. I know that when I try to lose weight, exercise alone helps, but does not solve the problem until I look at what and how much I am eating and fix that side of the problem too (grumble grumble…)
Reducing calories going in can be simple portion control. Weighing or measuring the food with a cup or on scales and working out a reduced portion can help. Alternatively using foods that are calorie restricted can be helpful. This is similar to the Jenny Craig’s philosophy where the food calories are strictly controlled and portions are designed to reduce calories going in.
Our clinic has a “slimmers club” for pets that are struggling to get their weight down. It is free and our nurses are very motivated to help. To start with you have a consultation with one of the nurses and a plan is formulated. Frequent weight checks are scheduled so that we can make sure that things are going in the right direction and we even have a “cheats confession” page for when your pet gets an extra bickie or two.
If you want to start up in Slimmers club, please call 9510 1335 and make a booking. Slimmers Club is a free service, but if you book during January 2013 and mention the blog, the first purchase of weight control food (should it be needed!) will be 25% off.
Weight control is a way of life, not just a diet. I had to learn this the hard way for myself when I kept nicking a biscuit here and there thinking it would be ok because it was “just one”. When I sat down and recorded it, I was eating “just one” biscuit up to 6 times a day!. Does your pet eat table scraps, barbeque left overs, marrow bones, biscuits, Smacko’s, or other treats occasionally? It might add up to more than you think if you question every family member as to how many they are getting in a day.
Some simple tips to try if your pet is putting on weight or on the heavier side.
• Don’t leave food down all the time to snack on.
• Measure the food going in.
• Get your pet health checked if they are not losing weight with good weight loss strategies.
• Feed your pets their meal in a different room from where you eat so that you are not tempted to feed that extra tid bit from the table.
• Limit snacks to twice daily and only a small amount (about the size of your thumb nail).
• If raw bones are used to clean teeth, they should be given INSTEAD of a meal.
• Especially for cats, try getting them to WORK for their food. Put dinner into a treat ball that they have to push around the house to get the food to fall out. Alternatively hide the food bowl in different parts of the house (like under the couch or inside a box) so that the cat has to “hunt” for their food.
Wishing all our patients are healthy and trouble free 2013. Maybe you can get your owners to bring you in for a slimmers club assessment. You can tell them the slimmers club consultations are free!