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Pet Summer Slimdown

PET CARE COLUMN NOVEMBER 2012

Pet Summer Slimdown
Make sure your pet is in tip-top shape with advice from one of Purina’s pet care experts

I almost daren’t say it unless I jinx it BUT – summer is almost here! If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been hanging out for summer since the day winter darkened our doorsteps

Yes, it’s about this time that panic sets in and everyone starts working hard to get in shape for summer – but there’s one group that always seems forgotten in our summer slimdown regimes, and that’s our pets.

Unlike us, pets don’t really have the means for self-regulating their bodies. So while you might get the shivers thinking about slipping into last year’s bikini, your pet doesn’t really consider it! However, a slimdown shouldn’t just be about looks, it’s about inner health, and that’s just as important for our pets as it is for us. To help ensure your pet is in tip-top shape for summer, I’ve put together a few ‘Pet Summer Slimdown’ guidelines.

How to tell if your pet is overweight:
- Stand over your pet viewing the back. Look for a nice curved indentation in the area of the waist (just beneath the rib cage). If your pet has a straight line or even a bowed-out line along the back, your pet could be overweight.
- View your pet from the side. There should be a nice ‘tuck up’ area behind the rib cage and before the hind legs. A pet with a straight line or saggy belly is likely to mean your pet is overweight.
- Gently run your fingers along your pet’s rib cage. The ribs should be easy to feel and the skin should glide over the ribs smoothly.
- It is important to feel your pet’s body shape as fur can obscure their true body shape.
- If you’re not sure, see your vet for a proper examination!

Getting the right portion size:
- Read the feeding guidelines on your Purina pet food packaging carefully and use them as a starting point – remember the amounts given are usually per day.
- Feeding twice a day can help to keep your dog feeling full and satisfied, just remember to feed only half the recommended daily amount per meal.
- If you give your dog additional treats during the day then reduce the amount you are giving them for their meal.
- The recommended feeding amounts are guidelines only, every dog is an individual with different dietary requirements (just like us!), so if you feel your dog needs to lose weight then feed less.
- However, if you are cutting back on your dog’s portions remember to decrease the amount slowly so they won't feel hungry.


Snacks and treats:
- As a general rule, don’t feed your pets too much ‘people’ food. It’s often too rich for them and is usually given on top of their prepared diet, which can contribute to weight gain.
- It is better to give treats formulated specially for pets and stick to the feeding guidelines.
- Set aside some of your pet’s regular dry food to use as treats during the day that way you won’t be feeding them extra calories.

Exercise:
- Make the most of the good weather and take your dog to the beach or stream for a swim, most dogs love water but even if they don’t it’s a great opportunity for them to run and play regardless!
- If you have an overweight dog that needs exercise, take them with you when you go walking, but be mindful that they might not last the distance. Take them for a short walk and if you need more exercise think of this as your ‘warm up’ and return the dog home before going on a power walk. Alternatively go for a slower walk and stop often to give your dog a rest, while your dog is resting you can be doing star jumps, squats or push ups, that way you and your dog get exercised.
- If your cat is overweight, it might pay not to leave their food bowl always topped up with biscuits. Instead, feed your cat at set times sticking to the feeding guidelines and trail the biscuits through the house so your cat has to get a bit of exercise to get their biscuits.
- Just like we enjoy having a buddy to walk with your dog will too. The next time you are going for a walk with a friend ask them to bring their dog with them so that you and your pooch can enjoy some great company and fitness at the same time.
- Cats and dogs often appear lazy when they are really bored. Play with your pet, engage with them, and make sure you have lots of toys for them to play with if you’re out during the day.
- With the school holidays here now is the perfect time to encourage your children to play with their pets. Perhaps they can enjoy a game of fetch together or even hide and seek, all of which can result in hours of fun and games!
- Rotate your pets toys give them a different one each day that way they won’t become bored with them.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet this winter, Purina New Zealand offers a FREE advice service at 0800 PET VIP (0800 738 847). A dedicated team of pet care experts, including veterinary nurses and animal behaviourists – like Shivaun – are available to offer advice and support on a wide range of pet care questions, from health and nutrition to behaviour, training and socialisation, as well as information about Purina products.

www.purina.co.nz
ENDS

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