Veterinarians warn Dubai residents of pet obesity

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Veterinarians warn Dubai residents of pet obesity

Dubai - Vets are encouraging pet owners to allow exercise for their animals

By Sarwat Nasir

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Published: Sat 9 Dec 2017, 5:11 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Dec 2017, 7:30 PM

The infamous 'Dubai stone' is not limited to just humans, vets are concerned about an increasing number of pets in the emirate being overweight or obese.
One vet, Dr. Sara Elliott from the British Veterinary Hospital, said that out of thousands of pets that are registered with the clinic, 50 per cent of them need to lose weight. She is blaming pet obesity on the lifestyle and ignorance of animal owners.
Vets are encouraging pet owners to allow exercise for their animals, especially with the upcoming festive season, where residents tend to get "lazy".
"Not many pet owners realise animals on average need to exercise regularly for over an hour before it will have a positive effect on their weight. This level of exercise simply isn't easy here, whether due to social and work schedules or timing restrictions due to hot weather. Therefore, a strict diet becomes even more crucial in keeping your pet's weight down." Dr. Elliott said.
"Boredom and unhappiness of animals confined indoors is also given as a factor for overeating. In the UK around 80 percent of cats will regulate their own weight without interference, they will eat only the right amount from an overfull food bowl. More animals here are housebound and pets comfort eat in the same way humans do if they are bored or lonely. It's their version of lazily opening the fridge to see what's inside to pass the time. Another way to look at it is when we are busy we are less likely to snack throughout the day."
Dr. Elliott said that residents are "killing their pets with kindness", especially when they feed them the wrong treats, offer them leftover and allow them to laze around the house instead of making them exercise.
She shared a case study of one of her clients whose cat was obese and had developed diabetes and severe joint disease as a result. The cat died of related heart failure.
The cat's owner admits she didn't exercise her pet, named Sassy, enough as she was living in an apartment and kept the cat indoors while at work all day.
"Sassy was born in Switzerland and was a normal sized kitten. We then moved to the UK where she spent time indoors and outdoors but when we moved to Dubai she became an indoor cat and she didn't have a routine with exercise. I don't think her diet was a problem as she ate only two meals per day with the odd treat of her favourite foods, custard and ham," the cat's owner said.
"My advice to pet owners would be to make sure your cat or dog has regular exercise, don't let them become a house pet and sit around on the sofa. I have another cat now and the situation is so different, we play with the cat for at least an hour every day and it's active and healthy as a result."
Dr. Ali Hifazat, who works at the Deira Veterinary Clinic, said that pet owners should not leave a bowl of food all the time for their pets, instead they should maintain a strict diet schedule for them.
"We always have clients that bring pets who are overweight. The owners don?t know that their pets should be eating only twice or thrice a day. They shouldn't be leaving food out all day," he said.
Dr. Hifazat said that even though there are limited places in Dubai where pet owners can take their animals for exercise, the pets can still be exercising at home or eating "properly".
"Even if they're at home, their health can be maintained. For cats and dogs, if the pet is left home alone all day and there's food available to them all day long, they will eat and sleep throughout the day, causing them to be overweight."

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