One in five South Africans think an overweight pet is "happy, healthy" and "cute", according to a recent survey. And this seems to be even more so in winter, a time when many owners think that bit of extra padding will come in useful. Unfortunately whatever the season, fat pets tip the scales in the direction of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer and live shorter lives.
Fyvie says animals – like humans – tend to want to eat more during winter as their bodies anticipate a need for extra energy to keep warm. But if your pet has been spending colder days indoors, or sleeping, it won't have burnt off the additional calories and as a result will be piling on the extra kilos. "Just a 1% calorie excess can cause obesity over time, so measure your pet's meals," advises Fyvie. "And instead of feeling guilty about not giving them a treat, rather go for a brisk walk or play with them. Getting active will warm you both up."