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The Hill’s Pet Slimmer Battle of the Bulge

April 2009

The Hill's Pet Slimmer Battle of the BulgeRecent studies suggest that over 30% of men and 50% of women in South Africa are overweight, and the levels are similar in the pet population. Veterinarians say about half the pets they see in their practices weigh more than is healthy.

So if your New Year resolution was to lose weight and get fit during 2009 don’t ignore the family pet; the P-PET study (People and Pets Exercising Together) demonstrated that by working together you’re both more likely to stick to the programme. Shedding excess kilos has huge health benefits for you both – overweight pets, like overweight people, are more likely to suffer from heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer. Clinical studies have shown that dogs at their optimum weight live an average of two years longer than those that are overweight.

Before getting started, ask your veterinarian to assess your pet’s weight. Because obesity has reached such alarming levels, hundreds of veterinary practices in South Africa and Namibia now run the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme – a tried and tested weight loss programme that combines veterinary advice, exercise recommendations and diets that have been specifically designed to help obese pets reach their optimum weight.

The Hill's Pet Slimmer Battle of the Bulge“Do get professional advice,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “A vet will determine the ideal weight and recommend how to reach that goal healthily. It’s not a case of immediately embarking on a rigorous exercise regime that can damage joints, or drastically cutting back on food which can be dangerous. If a cat does not eat for two consecutive days there is a risk of it developing hepatic lipidosis, a life-threatening liver condition.

Ella Pienaar, owner of Vinkel and Koljander, the joint winners of the 2008 Hill’s Pet Slimmer of the Year Competition, said during the time her Spaniels lost over 5kgs each she personally lost several kilos, by eating correctly and going for a short daily walk with the dogs.

“Pets can provide their owners with the companionship, social support and motivation to stick with a weight management programme until the kilos come off and stay off,” said Dr Fyvie. “It can be an effective win-win buddy system for the battle of the bulge, and help you keep your New Year resolutions.”

Dr Fyvie’s tips for exercising with your pet:

  1. Make exercise fun! As well as daily walks, enjoy playtime and games.
  2. Establish a routine that fits into your schedule.
  3. Eat the correct balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
  4. Drink plenty of water; as dehydration and heat stroke can be a serious problem.
  5. Exercise away from busy roads, making sure your pet is under control at all times.
  6. Work your way up as human athletes and dogs need gradual conditioning to strengthen muscles, joints and cardiac systems as well as toughen footpads.
  7. Find a regular activity that you both enjoy. A daily short walk is better than a weekly long one and swimming, which is good for those with arthritis or back problems, uses more energy than walking with less strain on joints. Start with very short swims for pets, a minute or less, and build up slowly.
  8. Set a pace you both can enjoy. If your dog begins to show signs of fatigue slow down. Remember, your faithful friend will do anything to please you.

Ask your vet about the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme and for an objective assessment of your pet’s weight, or email info@hillspet.co.za or call the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Careline toll free on (0800) 228 783.


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