Image The importance of regular vet check-ups for your pet

The importance of regular vet check-ups for your pet

Regular vet check-ups are crucial for several reasons, all of which contribute to your pet living a long, healthy and happy life. During these routine appointments, your vet will be on the lookout for symptoms of illness, internal health issues and other conditions that may need addressing.

Here, our team at St Kitts Vets explain what makes regular check-ups so important.

Early detection of health issues

Unlike us, pets can’t communicate when they are feeling unwell or experiencing discomfort. During a routine check-up, our vets will perform a thorough examination to identify any potential health problems early on. Early detection allows for timely intervention and treatment, which can significantly improve the outcome and may even save your pet’s life.

Preventative care

Prevention is always better than cure. Regular vet check-ups help ensure that your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, parasite prevention, and other essential preventive measures. This significantly reduces the risk of your pet contracting avoidable diseases and infections.

Personalised health recommendations

Every pet is unique, and their healthcare needs may vary based on factors such as breed, age, lifestyle, and pre-existing conditions. During check-ups, our vets can provide tailored health recommendations, including dietary advice, exercise plans, and behavior tips, to help your pet live a healthier and happier life.

Dental health evaluation

Dental problems are common in pets and can lead to serious health issues if left untreated. Regular vet check-ups will mean your pet’s teeth, mouth and gums can be given a quick once over to help maintain good oral health.

Montior aging pets

As pets age, they become more susceptible to certain health conditions, just like humans. Regular check-ups for senior pets allow us to monitor their health closely, catch age-related issues early, and provide appropriate senior pet care to improve their quality of life.

Weight management

Pet obesity is a significant concern, as it can lead to various health problems. During vet check-ups, your pet’s weight can be monitored, and our vets and nurses can offer guidance on proper nutrition and weight management if needed.

Establishing a positive relationship

No one likes visiting the doctor or the dentist, pets included! However, regular visits are a great way to help your pet become familiar and comfortable with the clinic environment and our team. This will help to reduce stress and anxiety during subsequent visits.

Compliance with legal and travel requirements

Many countries have specific requirements for vaccinations and animal health certificates when traveling or moving with pets. Regular vet check-ups ensure your pet’s vaccinations and paperwork are up-to-date, making travel and relocation hassle-free.

Get FREE health checks with our Pet Healthcare Plans

As a member, you get two FREE health checks per year – one with a vet during your pet’s booster appointment, as well as one with a nurse 6 months later.

Other excellent benefits include:

  • Annual vaccinations
  • Flea, tick* and worming products that fit with your pet’s lifestyle delivered to your door
  • Unlimited nail trims**
  • Microchip (if required)
  • 10% off neutering, dentals & in-house laboratory

And more!

*Tick control included with Plus Plans only.
**One nail trim included with Standard Plans.

You can find out more about our Pet Healthcare Plans here.

You can book a check-up with our team online, or by getting in touch with your local practice:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image Celebrating 20 years of Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month

Celebrating 20 years of Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month

In 2024, the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) is celebrating two decades of campaigning during the month of May! To celebrate this year’s Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, and to showcase the wonderful work of veterinary nurses around the world, we’re sharing an insight into #WhatVNsDo.

If you’re curious about veterinary nursing, or considering embarking on this field as a career, this blog has all you need to know.

Role of a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN)

RVNs have an essential role in caring for sick, injured and hospitalised animals, and are highly valued members of our team here at St Kitts.

Typical duties can include:

  • Carrying out nurse consultations including puppy, kitten and elderly patient checks
  • Supporting animals and their owners before and after procedures
  • Preparing patients for surgical procedures
  • Assisting in the operating theatre
  • Diagnostic imaging including taking radiographs
  • Providing nursing care and monitoring of patients in the wards, for a variety of species and conditions
  • Taking samples and carrying out diagnostic checks in the laboratory
  • Triage of emergency situations
How can I become a Registered Veterinary Nurse?

To become an RVN, you’ll need to complete a Veterinary Nursing qualification approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

There are two types of training:

Vocational training

A Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing usually takes between 2-3 years to complete full-time and is carried out alongside employment in a veterinary practice.

Higher education

A Foundation Degree in Veterinary Nursing or BSc (Hons) Veterinary Nursing usually takes 3-4 years to complete. It is more academically focused however a significant proportion of the course involves work-based training at an approved training practice.

Entry requirements

For the vocational training route, a minimum of 5 GCSE’s (alternative qualifications may also be considered) at grade C / 4 or above is required; these must include Science, Maths and English. Additional qualifications, such as A-levels, are required for enrolment onto a higher education course. 

The majority of courses require students to have relevant work experience before applying, to develop animal handling and restraint skills, as well as obtain an insight into life as a veterinary nurse.

The demand for places on any Veterinary Nursing course is highly competitive. We always recommend that students gain as much practical experience as possible, regardless of the route they chose to take to qualify. 

Work experience could include:

  • Veterinary practices
  • Rescue shelters
  • Kennels / catteries
  • Farms
  • Groomers
Join us for work experience at St Kitts Vets

Here at St Kitts Vets, we’re proud to offer placements for both work experience and university students. Our placements provide hands-on experience and the opportunity to immerse yourself in the daily duties at our practices. It’s an excellent chance to practise the skills required and gain valuable insights into the industry.

To apply for a work experience placement, please click here.

To apply for a university placement, please click here.

If you’re interested in veterinary nursing and would like further information or support, please contact your local St Kitts practice:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image Puppy socialisation: Introducing them to the world

Puppy socialisation: Introducing them to the world

One of the most exciting things about bringing a new puppy home is introducing them to new people, animals, environments and experiences. This early exposure plays a crucial role in shaping a confident and sociable adult dog, and is known as puppy socialisation.

Why is puppy socialisation important?

Builds confidence

Puppies, like humans, go through a critical developmental phase when they are particularly receptive to new experiences. This period, typically from 4 to 12 weeks of age, is when puppies learn to navigate the world around them.

Proper socialisation during this window helps puppies become more confident and less fearful as they grow up. A well-socialised puppy is more likely to view new experiences, people and animals as fun and exciting, not frightening.

Reduces behavioural problems

Many behavioural issues in adult dogs, such as aggression, anxiety and fear, can stem from inadequate socialisation during puppyhood.

By exposing puppies to a wide variety of stimuli in a positive and controlled manner, they learn to cope with new situations without resorting to negative behaviours.

Socialised dogs are typically less reactive and more adaptable, which means they’re less likely to develop issues like excessive barking, chewing, or aggression.

Boosts bonding and trust

Socialisation experiences, especially positive ones, contribute to strengthening the bond between the puppy and its owner. It builds trust and confidence in the puppy’s ability to navigate new situations with the support of its human companion.

Enhances safety

Socialised puppies are easier to manage and less likely to get into dangerous situations.

For example, a dog that’s comfortable around people is less likely to bite out of fear or anxiety. Similarly, a dog that’s accustomed to various sounds and sights is less likely to bolt or become uncontrollably frightened in noisy or busy environments. This not only keeps the dog safer but also protects people and other animals around them.

Improves training

Socialisation lays the foundation for successful training. Puppies that have been well-socialised are typically more receptive to obedience training and can learn new commands more quickly and effectively.

Improves vet and grooming visits

Routine care, such as veterinary check-ups and grooming, can be stressful for dogs. However, if a puppy has been gently exposed to handling by different people and to various environments, they’re more likely to be calm and cooperative during these visits. This not only makes the process smoother but also helps ensure that your dog receives the best possible care without undue stress.

Enhances social interactions

Socialised dogs are typically more pleasant companions in social settings, whether it’s meeting other dogs on walks, welcoming visitors to your home, or accompanying you on outings. They’re better equipped to read and respond to social cues from both humans and other animals, leading to more positive interactions and reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings or conflicts.

Top 5 tips for effective puppy socialisation

1) Start early

Begin socialisation as soon as you bring your puppy home, keeping in mind the balance between exposure and the puppy’s vaccination schedule.

2) Vary experiences

Expose your puppy to different people, environments, sounds and animals, ensuring that these experiences are positive and not overwhelming.

3) Progress gradually

Start with less intense experiences and gradually increase the level of stimulation as your puppy becomes more comfortable.

4) Positive reinforcement

Use treats, praise and play to create positive associations with new experiences and people.

5) Be patient and consistent

Socialisation is a process. Regular, gentle exposure to a variety of experiences is key to building a well-rounded adult dog.

If you would like more specific advice about socialising your puppy, contact your local St Kitts practice:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image St Kitts Vets Basingstoke passes RCVS inspection with flying colours

St Kitts Vets Basingstoke passes RCVS inspection with flying colours

We are incredibly happy to share that St Kitts Vets Basingstoke has passed its latest accreditation inspection from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) with flying colours! This means that all of our branches remain RCVS accredited under the Practice Standards Scheme (PSS).

What is the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme?

The PSS is a voluntary initiative run by the RCVS to accredit veterinary practices in the UK. It aims to promote and maintain the highest standards of veterinary care to give pet owners peace of mind and assurance that their pet is receiving the best of care.

Minimum standards are set by the RCVS for practices to attain and follow, which are assessed during a rigorous inspection process before accreditation can be awarded. These assessments are carried out regularly every four years, but a practice can be ‘spot checked’ at any time during this period to ensure standards are maintained.

Assessment criteria for ‘Core’ standards typically covers:

  • Hygiene and infection control
  • Emergency cover
  • Staff training
  • Equipment and facilities (including maintenance)

More recently, the criteria has even included environmental sustainability as another consideration.

On top of the ‘Core’ accreditation, practices can also gain species- or discipline-specific credentials. For example, all St Kitts Vets branches are accredited at Small Animal General Practice level.

What does the accreditation mean for you and your pets?

The PSS accreditation is important to you and your pet for a number of reasons:

  • As it is voluntary (around 69% of UK veterinary practices are currently accredited), the Practice Standards Scheme indicates that your vet is truly committed to delivering gold standards of care across the board.
  • It assures you that the team and their services are inspected regularly to confirm that strict standards are being maintained.

Who is the RCVS?

The RCVS is the regulatory body of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK. They regulate all aspects of the veterinary profession, including education, ethics, clinical standards and professional conduct.

If you see ‘MRCVS’ under a veterinary surgeon’s name, this indicates that they are registered with the RCVS and permitted to practice in the UK. To maintain these post-nominals, the vet must follow the RCVS code of professional conduct and keep their skills and knowledge up to date by means of continuous professional development (CPD).

For qualified veterinary nurses who are registered with the RCVS, you will see ‘RVN’ after their name. Similarly to vets, nurses must follow the code of professional conduct and continuous professional development.

For more information about our accredited practices, please contact your local St Kitts branch:

St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image How to spot and remove ticks from dogs and cats

How to spot and remove ticks from dogs and cats

As we head into spring, it’s a crucial time to be aware of ticks, which are most commonly found between the spring and autumn months. These common parasites can pose threats to your pets and family if left untreated.

In this article, we’re sharing how you can identify and safely remove ticks from dogs and cats (as well your other pets!) to help protect them from infections like Lyme disease.

Understanding ticks

Ticks are small, spider-like parasites that have eight legs and an egg shaped body. They are typically found in long grass and woodland areas.

Unlike fleas, they don’t jump, but will latch onto your pet’s fur if they brush past. They can feed on their blood for a few days before dropping off once they’ve had enough. However, during this time, there’s a risk the tick could transmit a disease to your pet.

Spotting ticks

It’s important to check your pet’s fur regularly for ticks, paying close attention to areas like their ears, neck and paws.

You may notice ticks become darker in colour, as they feed on your pet’s blood.

How to remove ticks safely

When removing a tick, make sure you don’t squeeze the tick’s body or leave the head in, as this can push blood back into your pet and increase the chance of infection or disease transmission.

If you see a black spot, redness or swelling where the tick was located, it is likely the tick was only partially removed. In these cases, there is a higher risk of infection, so it’s best to book an appointment with your vet to get your pet checked over.

Use a tick removal tool

To avoid causing the tick to split, you’ll need to twist it off. This can be done easily using a tick removal tool, widely available at vets and pet shops.

Some people try to burn ticks off, or use lotion to suffocate them; we strongly advise against this. These methods can harm your pets and will not prevent disease.

Easy to follow steps for tick removal

Step 1: Slide a tick remover under the tick
  • Slide a tick remover under the tick, keeping as close to your pet’s skin as possible.
  • If the tool doesn’t fit closely, try a different size (packs usually come with 2 or 3 different size options).
  • If you don’t have a tick remover, you can carefully use ordinary tweezers. Hold the tick gently and as close to the skin as possible.
Step 2: Twist the tick
  • Twist the tool in one direction, without pulling upwards, until you feel the tick loosen. It will release when you’ve turned enough.
Step 3: Remove the tick
  • Slowly lift the tool away from your pet; the tick should release and remain in the hook.
  • Dispose of it to prevent it attaching to other people or animals.
Step 4: Clean the area
  • Clean the affected area with warm salty water.
  • Monitor your pet for any signs of illness.

Look for symptoms of Lyme disease

Lyme disease is a severe bacterial infection carried by ticks. Dogs, cats and humans can all get Lyme disease, although it’s rare in cats.

Symptoms to look out for include (but may not be limited to):

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Lameness
  • Depression

Treatment for Lyme disease

Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, if detected early. If you are concerned that your pet may have Lyme disease or is showing any of the listed symptoms, contact your vet immediately for tests and prompt treatment.

Preventing ticks

It’s possible to protect your pet from ticks. With different types of preventative tick treatments, such as spot-on treatments and tablets available, that kill or repel ticks if they attach themselves.

Tick treatment is included with our Pet Healthcare Plus Plans, with products delivered straight to your door. Our Plus Plans also cover:

  • Annual vaccinations
  • Six monthly health checks
  • Flea and worming products
  • Unlimited nail trims
  • Discounts on selected services at St Kitts Vets
  • Free microchip (if required)

To find out more about our Pet Healthcare Plans, click here.

If you are worried about removing the tick yourself, or have concerns about your pet’s health, contact your local St Kitts practice immediately:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image Don’t egg-nore these Easter dangers for pets!

Don’t egg-nore these Easter dangers for pets!

Easter is a time of joy, celebration, warmer weather and, of course, lots of chocolate! But it also brings potential hazards for our furry friends. Pets, curious and eager to explore, may find themselves in risky situations, whether it be around certain foods or even out in the beauty of nature. In this article, we’re highlighting some of the common Easter dangers for pets and tips on how to keep them safe.

Chocolate and sweets

Generally, at this time of year, there’s no shortage of sweet treats in our homes, though this does mean there are more opportunities for our pets to get their paws on whatever they may find lying around.

Surveys by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) have found that around three in five vets treated pets for chocolate poisoning during the Easter holidays. These stats have changed very little over the years, indicating that more needs to be done to highlight the danger chocolate poses to pets.

Chocolate and sweets are toxic to both dogs and cats, containing substances like theobromine, xylitol and caffeine that can cause side effects like vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid breathing and increased heart rate, among others. Symptoms can take anywhere between 4-24 hours to show, so it’s really important to get in touch with your vet immediately if your pet has eaten anything they shouldn’t have.

Dogs are typically the ones who are most tempted, as cats and rabbits can’t taste the sweetness, but it’s best to keep any Easter eggs and other human treats far out of reach in fridges, cupboards or drawers.

Spring plants and flowers

While spring is a time where our gardens and homes brighten up with beautiful blooms, it can also pose a serious problem in cases where some plants are toxic to our pets.

  • Lilies: Every part of the lily is dangerous to pets, even the water they have been sitting in. They are particularly harmful to cats, with ingestion causing lethargy, vomiting, seizures and even kidney failure.
  • Tulips: Though serious cases (heart problems or breathing difficulties) are rare, ingesting tulips can still cause some other unpleasant side effects, including vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling and loss of coordination.
  • Amaryllis: The bulb is the most harmful part of the amaryllis, and a nibble on this can even be fatal for dogs. Look out for lethargy, an upset stomach, tremors and vomiting.
  • Daffodils: Containing a toxic alkaloid called lycorine, daffodils can cause upset stomachs for pets. In more serious cases, especially in dogs, they may experience fits and changes to heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.
  • Azaleas: If eaten in larger quantities, azaleas can be fatal. Most commonly, symptoms include diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, vomiting, tremors and seizures.

For an extended list of plants that are harmful to pets, please read our other articles:

Hot cross buns

They’re an Easter favourite for us humans, but come with a word of warning: don’t share these with your pets! Raisins and sultanas, along with many other dried fruits, are known causes of kidney failure in both cats and dogs, even it’s just a small quantity.

Easter eggs

If you arrange an Easter egg hunt in your garden, just make sure that all have been found before you let your dog outside, as they’ll easily find any that have been left behind. Even if you’ve used plastic or hard boiled eggs instead of chocolate ones, these can still be harmful, causing blockages or other digestive issues.

Holiday stress

The hustle and bustle of Easter celebrations can be overwhelming for pets – particularly if travel is involved. Many pets don’t respond well to changes in routine, which can cause stress. Look out for changes in their behaviour, including becoming withdrawn or more reactive, panting and shaking, or needing the toilet more than usual.

We hope you and your pets have a safe and wonderful Easter!

If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have, please get in touch with your local St Kitts practice:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image St Kitts Vets plant trees for a greener future

St Kitts Vets plant trees for a greener future

At St Kitts, we’re proud to be creating a more sustainable future. As veterinarians, we’re conscious we have a responsibility to protect the environment, to ensure the health and welfare of animals both locally and around the world.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Carbon Footprint, to embark on an exciting new project to plant trees to offset our carbon emissions and put a vital new sustainability policy in place.

Creating a sustainable future

As part of our new sustainability policy, we’ve planted 4 trees in the South East of England, one for each of our branches. By doing this, we’ve successfully offset 4 tonnes of carbon (4 tCO2e).

And we now have the certificates to prove it! Each is endorsed by Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) approved carbon credits, to guarantee carbon offsetting through verified carbon reduction projects and tree planting initiatives.

Why it’s important

Trees are the longest living species on earth and are vital to maintaining our biodiversity and climate. Some Oak trees live for over 1000 years, serving as essential long-term carbon stores.

  • Trees improve air quality (removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and generating the oxygen we breathe through photosynthesis)
  • Conserve water
  • Preserve soil
  • Protect wildlife

By planting trees, we’re benefiting local communities and aim to inspire future generations to reduce their environmental impact, which is a crucial part of our Corporate Social Responsibility commitment.

St Kitts Vets: Leading the way in sustainability

As a veterinary group, we’re proud to take proactive steps towards being environmentally responsible, prioritising animal welfare and the planet.

In addition to planting trees, we’ve implemented a new sustainability policy, in line with Vet Sustain’s Greener Veterinary Practice Checklist, to minimise the environmental and carbon footprint of all our veterinary services and operations.

By the end of 2025, our goal is to reduce carbon emissions across our four practices by 10%.

Image Pet Dental Care

Pet Dental Care

Pet dental care is just as important as brushing teeth twice a day is to us humans!

Preventative care is key to helping prevent the build-up of tartar, reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, and prevent discomfort and pain.

Pet dental care at St Kitts Vets

Our fully equipped practices enable our veterinary surgeons to diagnose and treat a range of dental conditions. We have state-of-the-art facilities, including:

  • Dedicated dental suites
  • Descaling and polishing equipment
  • Dental X-rays for teeth and bone examinations
  • Dentistry equipment for tooth extraction and other dental procedures
  • Separate patient recovery wards for cats and dogs
How can poor dental care affect my pet?

Poor dental health can cause problems for pets, with some of the most common symptoms including:

  • Bad breath
  • Visible build-up of plaque and tartar
  • Difficulty eating, such as dropping food out of mouth or chewing only on one side
  • Excessive drooling
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Swelling around the mouth or the face
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Rubbing or pawing their face
  • Discomfort and pain
How can I look after my pet’s teeth?

We recommend brushing your cat’s and dog’s teeth daily and providing them with a partially dry diet, including hard biscuits, which are particularly effective at removing plaque. We can also advise on products to help reduce plaque build-up and bad breath.

When it comes to dental treats, these should be given in moderation, as many can be high in calories.

What about rabbits?

Unlike cats and dogs, rabbit’s teeth continue to grow throughout their lives; this can lead to additional dental concerns. Providing a high fibre diet and encouraging chewing is central to ensuring that a rabbit’s teeth remain healthy, however; it is important to have regular dental checks in order to spot any potential problems early.

If a rabbit does not eat enough fibrous food to wear down the growing teeth or the teeth are misaligned for any reason, they can become overgrown and dig into the soft tissue of the mouth, causing pain and preventing the rabbit from eating properly.

Sings of dental disease in rabbits are similar to those seen in cats and dogs such as:

  • Reduced appetite or not eating
  • Difficulty eating, such as dropping food out of mouth
  • Excessive dribbling causing the rabbit to have a wet chin or front legs
  • Swelling around the mouth or the face
  • Rubbing at their face
  • Discomfort and pain
  • Reduced grooming

To fully examine the mouth, the vet will need insert a small scope into the rabbits mouth to visualise the cheek teeth. This can be done in a consultation and is not painful. 

Get 10% off dentals with our Pet Healthcare Plans!

Our Pet Healthcare Plans are designed to save you money by spreading the cost of routine and preventative treatment with low monthly payments.

Members get access to exclusive discounts on products and services at St Kitts Vets, including dentals, neutering and our in-house laboratory.

Additional benefits include:

  • Annual vaccinations
  • Bi-annual health checks
  • Flea, tick* and worming products delivered to your door
  • Free microchip
  • Nail trims
  • 10% discount on selected food

*Tick control included with Plus Plans only.

Sign up today and start saving!

If you have concerns about your pet’s teeth, please book a consultation online or contact your local St Kitts practice immediately.

Image Bird Vet Care

Bird Vet Care

Birds can be great for those who are looking for a pet that is intelligent and charismatic. From small budgies to exotic parrots and macaws, they make lovely companions, but do come with their own individual nutrition and socialisation requirements.

Here at St Kitts Vets, we offer advice, consultations and treatment for all types of birds. Vet Edda Pohlandt has a special interest in this area, particularly birds of prey, and is keen to see more avian cases from our Basingstoke clinic.

Veterinary care for pet birds

It’s common for pet birds to hide symptoms of illness, so we therefore recommend that regular health checks (every 6-12 months) are carried out by a vet to ensure they remain happy and healthy.

We are fully equipped at our small animal practices to treat a range of avian conditions, with our facilities allowing us to carry out surgery and complete diagnostics such as X-rays and blood sampling.

We can also carry out consultations and appointments for:

  • Nutritional advice
  • Nail or beak trimming
  • Behavioural advice
  • Weight monitoring
  • Exercise and enrichment advice
  • Housing advice

For appointments and to talk to our team about any concerns you have about your pet bird, please get in touch with your local practice.

Image How to keep your pet a healthy weight

How to keep your pet a healthy weight

It may surprise you to hear that 65% of dogs and 39% of cats in the UK are either overweight or obese – something that is definitely a growing concern.

In fact, a recent study found the average dog is being overfed by 54,000 calories a year – that’s the equivalent of a human consuming 402 burgers!

To help you keep your pet a healthy weight, we consulted with the team at St Kitts to put together their top tips. It’s important to note that your pet’s specific breed characteristics will need to be considered individually, as all will have varying body types.

Signs your pet is overweight

Can’t feel their ribs

A subtle change to your pet’s physical appearance can be a sign your pet is becoming overweight. To check, see if you can easily feel your pet’s ribs without pressing too hard. If you can’t feel them, this may mean your pet is overweight.

No waistline

Look at your pet – if there is no distinct waist or if it appears to be bulging, your pet may be carrying excess weight. Having a noticeable waist, between the ribs and hips, is a healthy sign.

No abdominal tuck

A slight tuck in the abdomen is normal for many pets. If there is no discernible tuck or if the belly hangs down, it could indicate excess weight.

Lethargic

If your pet seems to be lacking in energy and unwilling to play or explore, it could be a sign that excess weight is causing them discomfort when actively moving about.

Mobility issues

If your pet is having difficulty moving around, jumping or exercising, it might be due to excess weight. Observe their activity level and consult your vet if there are any concerns.

How to keep your pet a healthy weight

Balanced diet

Feed your pet a well-balanced and nutritional diet, suitable for their age, size and breed. You can always ask your vet for advice on the appropriate type and amount of food for your pet.

Track weight

Keep track of your pet’s weight over time. Sudden or consistent weight gain could be a sign of an issue. Regular visits to your vet for weight checks can help monitor this.

Monitor diet

Be observant – keep an eye on what your pet is eating, as it might be more than you think! If you make any changes to their diet, check their weight and monitor their progress.

Avoid feeding leftovers

Be mindful that leftovers aren’t really meant for pets, especially ones with a high fat content; It can be easy to pile on the pounds when regularly feeding them bits and pieces. Eating inappropriate food can also lead to the development of other conditions, such as pancreatitis.

Reduce calories

A new lower calorie diet could be key to helping your pet lose weight. Be sure to check with your vet before introducing a new diet to make sure it’s appropriate.

Limit treats

Treats are great as a reward, but they should be just that, a treat, not part of your pet’s regular diet. Take care to only offer treats intended for pets and opt for healthier alternatives to keep the calories under check.

Increase exercise

Regular exercise is an important part of staying fit and healthy. It’s reported that 44% of dog walks are less than 30 minutes, with 13% of dogs not being walked every day.

If you’ve noticed your dog is gaining weight, simply extend their walk by ten minutes, or take them out for another short walk during the day to help them burn fat. Interactive toys are another great way for your pet to burn calories.

Avoid free-feeding

Instead of leaving food out all day, establish a feeding schedule. This allows you to control the portions and monitor your pet’s eating habits.

Practice portion control

Measure your pets food to avoid overfeeding. Follow the feeding guidelines provided by the pet food manufacturer, and adjust as necessary based on your pet’s activity level and age.

Stay consistent

Consistency is key to maintaining a healthy weight for your pet. Stick to their feeding and exercise routine to avoid your pet becoming overweight and don’t be afraid to raise any concerns with your vet.

Try out our weight clinics

At St Kitts, we offer Weight Clinics run by our expert Veterinary Nurses for pets who are overweight, providing plans to suit the individual needs of the pet.

Our team will organise regular weigh-in appointments and can provide owners with expert advice on diet and exercise.

If you have concerns about your pet’s weight, contact your local St Kitts practice immediately:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799