World Health Organisation statistics show that 39% of all adults are overweight, with 13% classified as ‘obese’. With such a high percentage of the human population carrying additional weight through lifestyle choices, it’s no surprise to see that almost half of the pets in South Africa are also classified as being overweight or obese.

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Carrying just an extra kilogram or two can have long-term health implications for your pets. “Your lifestyle choices have an impact on your health – but also impact the health of your pet,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, nutritional advisor for Hill’s Pet Nutrition in South Africa. “Obesity is the number one cause of health problems in pets in South Africa – and around the world – today”.

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Pets who are overweight live shorter lives and are at higher risk of developing arthritis, urinary conditions, skin problems, heart disease and even cancer, amongst other diseases. Overweight pets may have difficulty walking, they may move slower, develop shortness of breath, exhibit bad tempers and sleep more than usual. “If you run your fingers along their side and you can’t easily feel their ribs, or if they have no obvious waist, they are probably carrying too much weight,” says Fyvie. Overweight pets have also been shown to be less happy – so that ‘snack time treat’ or generous helping is really doing more harm, than good.

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The US Association for Pet Obesity Prevention cites a ‘fat gap’ as a key factor in the obesity epidemic: most pet parents can’t - or won’t – believe a veterinarian when they’re told their pet is overweight, because they’re not able to identify the signs. “The weight gain often takes place gradually and is easy to overlook in the absence of regular check-ups,” says Fyvie. “Rather than putting your pet at risk of obesity-related diseases, get a professional, objective opinion”.

Half of mzansi pets in classified as overweight or

October is Pet Obesity Month in South Africa, and pet parents can book a free weight assessment at a participating Pet Slimmer veterinary practice for an evaluation of their pet’s condition - and a suggested course of action if they’re overweight.

“A professional assessment is also important in determining the underlying causes of the excess weight – some breeds are more likely to gain weight, the animal’s age can play a role, medical disorders can cause weight gain and feeding habits can also be a factor,” says Fyvie. “The Pet Slimmer assessment is an evaluation of your pet’s condition and the lifestyle they lead. A vet will be able to make recommendations that will help ensure that they lead more comfortable, healthier lives”.

Find a participating Pet Slimmer practice and book a weight assessment, today.