Over the last 3 months we have all been adapting to life amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of us now working from home and spending much more time with our pets. There has been an increase in the number of pets adopted during this period, with Battersea Dogs and Cats Home reporting that for the week of 16 March rehomed a total of 155 animals, which is an increase of over 115% on the same period in 2019.
One of the most frequent problems seen at the vets is simply the feeding of too many calories. It gives us great pleasure to offer a tasty treat to our companions, and is always done with the best intentions. But are we truly aware of the individual’s nutritional and dietary requirements and how this treat contributes to their daily intake? With 1 in 2 cats and dogs falling into the category of being overweight, the question is answered, we often get it wrong. During the lockdown we have had restrictions on our daily exercise, which also has a direct impact on our animals, and so this creates the perfect environment for more pets to gain weight.
It may come as a surprise how little calories your average dog or cat may need in a single day. Whilst figures can vary, for example, a medium sized dog of good body condition, who gets an average level of exercise, needs approximately 1,000 calories per day to maintain their weight. To show the impact of a treat, one of the most common chews contains 130 calories, 13% of their daily intake. The only way to maintain a healthy weight would be to reduce their daily meal to accommodate that calorie content of the treat given, i.e. 13% less, or don’t give the treat?! Similarly, a cat of good body condition who spends an average amount of time actively exploring outside, would typically need 200 calories per day to maintain the same body condition.
Here is a simple diagram demonstrating how many treats your dog should be having in line with their average daily calorie intake:
Instead of readily giving treats, we advise introducing other ways to keep your dogs and cats entertained during lockdown, such as:
- Stuff a ‘Kong’ or something similar with hydrated kibble or some of your pets usual wet food.
- Use interactive/ puzzle toys to keep your pets mentally stimulated and active when they are indoors.
- Rotate toys so as your pet doesn’t become bored by having too many options presented at once.
- Spend time teaching your pet new tricks, or improving obedience. Now is the perfect time to work on ‘fetch’ with your dog if you are lucky enough to have a garden – and it will help increase their exercise levels too.
In addition to concerns over nutrition, we have had a number of clients get in touch over the past few weeks regarding our veterinary services, appointments and routine treatments. When lockdown was enforced, all Small Animal Practices were instructed to provide emergency and critical care work only. This meant the practice doors were closed to all but those in urgent need of our help. Molecare joined many other practices in moving towards telephone and video consultations so as we can continue to support our patients and provide advice and reassurance where needed. In addition we are still seeing a number of patients in practice each week and continuing to perform procedures and emergency surgeries.
Restrictions on how we prescribe medicines have also adapted to the current situation, meaning we are now able to prescribe to animals remotely where appropriate. This means your animals are still able to get treatment, which has been a concern particularly where long term repeat medicines are required.
Whilst our ways of working have had to adapt as a result of COVID-19, if you have any concerns regarding your pets please do call the practice and we will be able to arrange a telephone, video or face-to-face appointment as deemed appropriate.
As a nation of animal lovers it is no wonder that our pets have proved themselves to be great companions and providers of solace in this difficult time. On behalf of all at Molecare Pet Vets we wish you all well and hope you enjoy the extra time you are getting to spend with your furry friend.