The importance of weight management

By veterinary nurse Ayesha Watson

One of the most important things you can do to make sure your pet is healthy and happy is to look after their weight.

Keeping pets at their optimal weight gives them a better quality of life, a longer life expectancy and takes pressure off their joints and organs.

One of my roles as part of the Paragon team is to run weight clinics where we support and advise owners to get their pets to the optimal weight. It is a really rewarding part of my job and something I enjoy doing.  

At the first weight clinic with your pet, we carry out an assessment. We use a body condition scoring system to determine how much weight your pet needs to lose to reach their optimal weight. Age is a factor - if an animal is classed as ‘senior’ we only recommend losing 20 per cent body weight, which is why it is important to maintain their weight throughout adult life.

We will go through their current diet and look at how we can alter their usual routine or diet to get them down to a target weight at a suitable weight loss per week. This can be done by calculating their maintenance energy rate for their target weight, and then working out the best route for optimal weight loss by either reducing food, cutting back on treats or changing their diet. 

Simple things can be done to reduce weight such as weighing their food out daily instead of using a cup or cutting back on treats and instead using part of the daily allowance as treats throughout the day.

We will look at the current exercise routine and see if we can alter this in anyway. At our weight clinics we also take photos and measurements of your pet to use as comparison. We can then look back and see how far they have come, and it is great to see the achievement made.

Ideally, we like to see our patients monthly to make sure the weight is being lost at a healthy rate, but also to make sure weight is being lost. If no weight is being lost, then we can discuss ideas to alter daily routines to kick-start the weight loss programme.

It is great to see pets at the end of their weight loss programme looking happy and so much healthier. Just 6 per cent weight lost can make a massive difference to an animal.