Zara Boland is a vet extraordinaire who is rapidly becoming a minor celebrity in the UK and beyond. Recently she has presented ‘Zara’s Pet Clinic’ on ‘This Morning’ and has previously appeared on Channel 4, ITV, Sky TV, and BBC World.

She acts as a spokesperson on issues affecting pets and is clearly passionate and incredibly knowledgeable on the topic. She’s also very generous with her time and has kindly agreed to answer some of our questions. Read on for our exclusive interview with this rising star and to see what advice she has for pet owners. To get in touch with Zara for TV, Radio or any other Media inquiries please follow her on Twitter!

Q1. To start, could you please tell our readers a little about yourself and what you do?

I’m a clinical vet with a passion for helping people to understand their pets. I do this in any way that I can from hands-on consults to international conference speaking, article writing, TV and radio. My main areas of interest are animal nutrition and behavior, but I also have a lifelong fascination with exotic animals and am involved with a number of different domestic and global wildlife charities.

Q2. You presented ‘Zara’s Pet Clinic’ on This Morning recently and have done some other work in TV. What would you say is the most important message you try to get across to pet owners through these shows?

Most of the TV work that I do revolves around highlighting and trying to mitigate welfare issues e.g. abandoned animals; the pet obesity crisis and the most recent topic I did was about meerkats. They’re rising in popularity as captive pets here in the UK due to a current, very successful TV advert, but the tragedy is that they’re completely unsuited to captivity. They suffer greatly if kept in isolation or even in pairs and can also be quite aggressive. So the most important message I try to get across is for people to understand what it means to be a responsible pet parent & to commit to being the absolute best that they can be! It’s a huge responsibility, both emotionally and financially to have another little life totally dependent on you and that doesn’t vary, regardless of which species we’re talking about.

Q3. As a practicing vet, what are some of the most common issues you see in animals that come in to see you?

Obesity, obesity, and obesity! It’s an increasing problem not only for us as humans, but also for our pets. I believe that there is a current obesity epidemic that’s adversely affecting nearly all of our companion animals. Our whole perception of ‘normal’ seems to have shifted over the last few years and what people consider to be a ‘normal’ body condition for their pets now is actually overweight. Rabbits, in particular, suffer greatly from this due to inadequate nutrition and poor general husbandry. Obesity also causes and triggers so many other health conditions that if we could fix the underlying issue we’d see a massive decrease in conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and respiratory problems.

Q4. What do you think are some of the most important steps that owners can take in order to keep their animals happy and healthy? Do you have any quick tips?

Learn how to do a body condition score on your pet and repeat it at least once a month!  It’s super quick and easy to do and there are some video clips on my website that show you how to do it at home for dogs, cats, and birds. There’s also a scoring chart for rabbits. By keeping your pet to their ideal body condition it has been scientifically proven that you can increase their healthy lifespan by up to 2 years and also significantly slow down the onset of typical age-related diseases such as arthritis.

Q5. Finally, do you have any pets of your own?

Yes! After many, many years of not being in a position to be able to commit to the time requirement of owning a dog, I’m now the proud pet parent of Rhumba, my little Berner.  She’s just wonderful and has taught me so much about enjoying the simple things in life. She’s also turned into quite a little TV star and accompanies me everywhere I go. Hopefully, she will also prove to be a great mum sometime in the coming year too, so watch this space…