Whenever we decide that it's time to get in shape and lose a few pounds the first thing we often scrutinise is our diet, as we cut out the sweet treats and turn to the healthy stuff.

And this should be no different when it comes to our pets. With pet obesity becoming a serious problem threatening to reach epidemic proportions in the UK, if your mutt or moggy is starting to look a little heavy around the middle it's essential that you take a good look at their diet and try to nip the problem in the bud.

Diet is particularly important when it comes to cats, as the independent nature of our feline friends means that it can be hard to encourage them to exercise more - the other essential component to weight loss.

Beth Skillings, Cats Protection's clinical veterinary officer, advises: "Weight loss is best achieved with a holistic approach, looking at what, how, where and how much food is fed, and looking at your cat's lifestyle and home environment in order to gradually increase his or her activity levels and promote play."

Many pet owners chose to switch their cat to a prescription diet from their vet in an effort to shift the extra weight but, while effective, these types of dry cat food can be quite expensive for the average pet owner.

A cheaper alternative, however, is to opt for a brand that caters for special dietary needs such as Iams cat food, which will help your moggy shed the pounds without putting a strain on your bank balance.

However, it is essential that you don't make any sudden changes to your cat's diet or that you reduce the amount they consume dramatically as this can lead to health problems.

If you are unsure about how to gradually switch your pet's diet or you need guidance on how the type and quantity of food they should be eating it's always best to have a word with your vet who should be able to advise you.

Written by: Hannah