It’s easy for weight to steadily creep on over time, and the same is true for our pets. One of the biggest issues is the confusion about what a healthy shape and size is for our pets, especially as tubby Terriers, rotund Retrievers and lardy Labradors are increasingly being viewed as normal.

PDSA vet, Olivia Anderson Nathan, said: “Studies show an estimated 40% of cats and dogs are now overweight or obese, so there’s clearly a pet obesity issue in the UK. Obesity increases the risk of developing serious health conditions, including diabetes, and arthritis, so it’s incredibly important we address this issue. The first step in addressing the problem is to help pet owners understand whether their pet is a healthy size as overweight pets are now often seen as the norm.”

To help keep your pet slim and healthy, Olivia has put together some top tips:

• Ask your vet or vet nurse about your pet’s weight. They’ll be able to tell you if they’re a healthy shape and show you how to judge this as well. They can give you a target weight to aim for if your pet’s overweight and support you with an appropriate diet or exercise plan

• Dogs should be fed according to their breed, age, health and lifestyle. For example, a working sheepdog needs more calories than a dog who spends most of the day indoors and gets a couple of walks a day

• Cats naturally prefer lots of small meals to one large one as that’s how they’d hunt their food. If food is left down for them, many cats ‘graze’, eating a few mouthfuls between eight and 16 times a day! If your cat has a tendency to scoff their food as soon as it’s out or there’s a chance it will go off or be eaten by another cat it’s better not to leave food down. Instead feed small portions little and often and make your cat “work” for their meal by scatter-feeding their dry food or using a puzzle feeder

• Read the guidelines given on your pet food packaging, as this will provide a starting point of how much you should be feeding your pet to make sure they are eating the correct portion size for their weight. This will vary between brands and varieties, so it’s always best to check and usually you’ll want to feed your pet for the weight they should be, rather than the weight they are if they’re carrying extra weight. Your local vet or vet nurse will be able to help you fine tune portion control to make sure your pet is getting what they need

• Treats shouldn’t form part of your pets’ regular daily food intake, and should only be occasional; extra calories easily turn into fat. Dogs don’t need food treats to know you love them, just lots of fuss and fun activities. When you do give them a treat, remember to adjust the portion size of their other meals accordingly

• Avoid feeding your pet human food, including any leftovers or scraps. These contribute to unnecessary excess calories, and can also put them off their own food! Certain human foods can also cause tummy upsets or even poisoning leading to severe illness