A campaign has been launched in Northwich to help portly pooches and fat cats win the battle of the bulge.
Abbeycroft Veterinary Surgery has set up the county’s first weight management centre to combat an epidemic of pet obesity.
Studies show that more than half of dogs and cats in the UK are currently overweight or obese.
The surgery in Station Road, which is part of the independent Willows Veterinary Group, is the first practice in Cheshire to achieve approval as a Royal Canin approved pet weight management centre.
Just like humans, obesity in animals is linked to a shorter lifespan and a variety of health problems including diabetes, arthritis, heart and respiratory diseases.
Around 60 cats and dogs have now embarked on their own tailor-made, weight watching journey with Abbeycroft’s head nurse Katie Hartnoll.
So successful has the programme been since it started at the end of last year, that 11 of Abbeycroft’s registered podgy pets have reached their target weight.
Katie, who has worked as a veterinary nurse for 13 years, said: “We are definitely seeing very overweight pets more and more and in most cases, it is nothing to do with owners not loving or caring for their animals. Often the reverse is true.
“It’s the relationship which owners have with their pets. They feel they are not providing enough love if they don’t reward them all the time with treats.
“One owner told me she was feeding her dog Viennese whirls every day and this seemed a loving thing to do because the dog clearly enjoyed it.
“It’s a common problem that owners spoil their much-loved pets with human food. They’ll have a Sunday roast at the same time as the rest of the family and owners will want them to have the same sort of variety in their diet as we do.
“But it’s simply not necessary and in fact, most animals actually thrive much better with regularity in their diet. They don’t need all the choice and they don’t look forward to a Sunday dinner like we do.”
One of Abbeycroft’s feline success stories is black and white cat Amber whose rather laid-back approach to life has been one of the contributing factors to her expanding waistline.
The pampered puss has shed an impressive 420 grams of weight, the equivalent of almost two blocks of butter or a family size packet of ham, which was her favourite treat before her diet started.
Owner Anne Tedford, 65, of Weaverham, said: "When she came to us as a rescue cat, she was underweight and is quite fussy with her food so I think that also contributed to her becoming too heavy. Now I have a sign up on the wall with the exact food she is allowed and when so nobody has any excuse to overfeed her.
“I’m the strong one and my husband and daughter still want to give her bits of ham but I have been really tough and insisted that we all stick to it and it really has worked.
“She has started to jump up on things again a lot more now and before she was walking slower and looking older. It’s rewarding to see her look so well and know we have improved her health as she starts to get older.
“Katie has been a great support and I don’t think we would have achieved anywhere near the same result because I really wouldn’t have known where to start with what to feed her. She’s very kind with Amber too and I think both of us have looked forward to the appointments because Katie makes such a fuss of us.”
For more information and to get in contact with Katie, call Abbeycroft Veterinary Surgery on 01606 40332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org