• A healthy diet is encouraged to keep your pet fit and healthy
  • 87 percent of pet owners confess to giving their pets treats
  • Obesity in pets is on the increase

Healthy eating is always encouraged in human beings and the same ideals that apply to us are also relevant to the pets we keep when it comes to food.

There is therefore a natural correlation between our own eating habits and that of our pets, as our tendencies tend to be passed on to our dog or cat.

This is worth examining when it comes to assessing your pet's diet. Not only will it ensure that your animal benefits from a diverse, nutritional and healthy range of food, it will also provide you with more of an impetus to eat better yourself. Without looking after your pets diet, they could become unwell and incur costly visits to the vet, even if they are insured.

Here are some tips on advice.

Dogs

The general advice is to provide your dog with complete, commercially sound type of dog food, which will deliver all of the essential nutrients needed.

Therefore refrain from given them food designed for humans – they will receive little or no nutritional benefits and, depending on what is consumed, respond negatively (chocolate, for example, is poisonous).

You should look to feed a fully grown dog twice a day. As for treats, the advice is to refrain from this unless you using them as training incentive or you are confident that the extra calories will be burnt off.

As for liquids, dogs need constant access to clean drinking water. The RSPCA explains that without this, a dog can become 'seriously ill within hours'.

Cats

As with dogs, the general advice is to provide your cat with complete, commercially approved cat food. This will guarantee that they benefit from a nutritionally balanced diet.

Human food is never advised. Their digestive system is not built to contend with food that humans eat and in the same way that dogs are intolerant to certain foods, so too are cats (onions, for example, are poisonous).

Ideally, you should feed your cat throughout the day (follow packet guidelines) – they prefer to consume food in a staggered fashion, as opposed to having one big meal.

Interestingly, cats do not require treats. They are able to get everything they need from cat food and, if free to explore outside, from whatever food they scavenge in the wild.

The same rule for liquids applies to cats, which is constant access to clean drinking water. The RSPCA explains that without this, a cat can become 'seriously ill within hours'. It adds that milk is not a substitute to water.

The importance of a healthy and balanced diet

Earlier this year, the PDSA released the findings from a study it conducted which showed that pet obesity in the UK is reaching crisis point.

An overwhelming majority of pet owners (87 per cent) admitted that they gave their cat or dog treats, even though most of them acknowledged that the resulting obesity that comes from indulging them is damaging to their health.

Speaking at the time, Elaine Pendlebury, a senior veterinary surgeon at the PDSA, said that it is now routine practice for vets to have to deal with morbidly obese pets.

"It is one of the biggest welfare concerns facing the nation’s pets," she said. "It’s effectively a silent killer leading to long term health issues for pets that can cut their lifespan by up to two years."

Owners should always avoid giving their pets leftover food, cut down – or cut out – giving pets treats and, if they notice that their dog or cat is obese, get advice from a vet on how to whip them back into shape.

Finally, it is important to stick to a routine and feed your pets at a regular time. This will ensure that they know when feeding time is and allow you to keep on track of what you have given your pet.