National Obesity Week – 15 to 19 October 2016
Obesity is a massive problem in South Africa, with up to 70% of women and a third of men classified as overweight or obese. And it’s not only a problem for people – it seems the four-legged members of the family are also affected. South African vets say more than half the patients they treat are overweight.
“The cause is basically too much energy in, too little energy out,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor for Hill’s Pet Nutrition South Africa. “Pets are being overfed and under-exercised.” Research clearly demonstrates that overweight pets have shorter lives and are at higher risk of arthritis, urinary conditions, skin problems, heart disease and cancer. If you think fat pets are happier, think again – overweight pets have been shown to be less happy.
In a bid to tackle this growing problem, hundreds of vets around the country run special Pet Slimmer weight-management clinics, with more than 15, 000 dogs and cats having joined the battle of the bulge in the last five years. “The transformation truly amazes me. Limping pets start walking normally again, breathing difficulties become a problem of the past, they become more energetic, playful and mobile,” says Pretoria-based veterinary nurse Sister Cindy du Preez, who has helped hundreds of patients successfully shed their excess kilos through the Pet Slimmer programme.
The US Association for Pet Obesity Prevention cites a ‘fat gap’ as a key factor in the obesity epidemic – most owners don’t believe their pet is overweight or understand the serious health problems that can create. “Nine out of ten owners mistakenly think their pet’s size is ‘normal’. The truth is we’ve forgotten what a healthy, lean pet looks like,” says Dr Fyvie.
Rather than putting your pet at risk of obesity-related diseases, get a professional, objective opinion. Find a participating #PetSlimmer practice this October on www.PetSlimmer.co.za and book a weight assessment (which are often offered free of charge – check with your practice).