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WEEKEND WEB: Keeping your pets in shape

Keep your pets in shape
Keep your pets in shape

ANIMAL MAGIC: A weekly column from Alder Veterinary Practice, of Spalding and Bourne

Finally, a warm day, the smell of barbecues, and Spring is in the air.

Spring should also be in the step as well but it’s going to take a bit of effort to lose those winter pounds and so it’s on with the jogging shoes and out with the lycra.

Running (maybe that’s an exaggeration) is always fun with a dog but while I plod away she easily sprints past me and for an animal that sleeps 90 per cent of the day and doesn’t go to the gym, she can certainly put on a power of speed.

My theory is that throwing the ball is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), as promoted by Joe Wicks, for my dog.

But all this effort is to get the perfect beach body or at least a waistline and it should be the same for dogs, cats and rabbits as well.

It’s easy to exercise dogs, just take them for a walk. Let them off the lead and they are already travelling three times the distance you are. If you join an agility group or flyball training, exercise is not only great fun but great socialising for you and your dog.

For dogs that have weight and joint problems then swimming is a good alternative and hydrotherapy pools have trained personnel to ensure your dog exercises well in a weight-free environment.

Cats are more difficult to exercise if they are not outside most of the time. Using wind-up toys and laser lights will get them moving but they easily become bored, so it means being inventive and changing the game frequently.

Even moving food bowls to different locations will encourage our cat to move and explore. Rabbits need large runs and companions. They will run around chasing each other and digging tunnels.

So that’s the energy output but what about the energy input? As humans we have a huge range of foods to pick from and can choose to eat healthily and limit the amount (however, self-discipline is needed and is something I lack).

For animals it is much simpler, we give them all that they eat, so controlling the calorie input and the quality of the food is so much easier.

All animals should be slim. The ribs should be easily felt and from above they need to be a figure of eight figure with a waistline. From the side, the abdomen should be tucked up.

Never feed for the weight they are but the weight they should be. Although pet food packets have a feeding guide, adjust the amount according to the shape of your pet. Just like us, an animal’s metabolism can vary with age, health and of course whether they have been neutered.

So good luck with your strolling, walking, running and here’s looking forward to summer!


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