MyVet warns of the hidden health risks facing overweight pets.
Our veterinary practice in Firhouse has noted a rise in obese pets visiting its clinic, with many struggling with health conditions made worse by their weight gain.
Registered veterinary nurse, Sarah O’Malley, runs MyVet Firhouse’s weight clinics, which are designed to get pets such as Bernese Mountain Dog, Mya, back to their prime.
Sarah recently helped the four-year-old dog lose more than 8kg with a calorie-controlled prescription diet which reduced Mya’s weight from 43.9kg to 35.7kg.
Mya had been suffering with joint issues, exacerbated by her weight gain, which have now improved thanks to the weight loss.
Sarah said: “Mya came in for weight clinics every two weeks at the start of her programme and her weight loss was so important because she has joint issues.
“I prescribed Mya with Metabolic Mobility, as this type of dog food is designed to aid weight loss by having a low energy density, combined with the right level of vitamins and minerals to support her joints.
“A prescription diet can be very effective for dogs like Mya, who may struggle to increase their levels of exercise due to joint pain or other physical difficulties.
“At each session, I weighed Mya, took her measurements, and recorded the progress in her weight loss book for her owner's records.
“Once I was happy that her weight loss was progressing well, we reduced her weight clinic visits to every four weeks.
“I’m pleased to say Mya has now reached her goal weight, having lost 8.2kg in total, which has also significantly reduced her joint problems.”
Approximately 60 per cent of dogs in Ireland are overweight, with the pandemic and an increase in working from home boosting numbers in recent years.
As pets take advantage of additional begging opportunities, and with owners often mistaking requests for attention as hunger, Ireland’s dogs are piling on the pounds.
While every pet can potentially become overweight, certain dog breeds are more predisposed to weight gain.
MyVet's top tips for pet weight management
MyVet advises owners of labradors, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, bulldogs, cavaliers, dachshunds, beagles, pugs, French bulldogs, West Highland terriers and chihuahuas in particular to monitor their pet’s weight.
To ensure your pet stays as fit as a butcher’s dog and to prevent them becoming overweight, Sarah has some useful tips.
She said: “I recommend following the guidelines on the pet food you are using and weighing out the portion on scales as this ensures that you are feeding the correct amount.
“Also, give your pet healthy treats instead pre-packaged treats or human foods; I think most pet owners would be shocked to learn that 100g of ham or chicken is the equivalent to giving a dog two donuts, as is 30g of cheese.
“Toast and bread in general are best avoided altogether, as just a corner of toast is equal to around four slices to a pet, and even dental sticks can be highly calorific.
“The healthy alternatives I would recommend are carrots, blueberries, courgette, cucumber, peppers and unsalted rice cakes, as these are all low in calories but have high nutritional value.”
To check if your dog is overweight, run your hand along their side, where you should be able to feel an outline of their ribs – similar to how pens feel in a shirt pocket.
Then look at your dog from the side, where you should be able to see their abdominal tuck; this is where their waist tucks up neatly after their chest.