Are you overfeeding your pet — or feeding the wrong things? Pet obesity is a growing problem. Here’s how to reduce it in your home.
We love our pets. And when they look at us from those big, round, eyes that radiate the love back, or when they’re well behaved, we want to reward them for the joy they add to our life. That reward often comes in the form of a treat.
But are we rewarding our pets too much and too often? Are they being overfed and under exercised? A recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, which found about half of all dogs and cats in American homes to be overweight or obese, would indicate yes. You should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs. If you can’t it, you should consult with your veterinarian for a professional assessment and weight loss plan. Even just one extra pound can cause or exacerbate medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, orthopedic problems, and even lead to a shortened life.
Cats in the Kitchen
The average cat weighs between 6 and 20 pounds, depending on breed and sex. As adults, they require 20-to-30 calories per pound of body weight a day. So a 10-pound cat needs 200-300 calories daily to stay within a healthy weight.
There’s nothing wrong with giving your cat a treat, but the portion size should be small. Veterinarians advise feeding a cat no more than 10 percent of their daily nutrition from treats. If you can’t resist indulging kitty with more, make sure that you reduce the amount of regular food get.
Home cooks can easily prepare fresh liver, fish, and egg treats for cats and a variety of commercial cat treats is available in supermarkets, pet stores, and online. One popular pet care website offers catnip and cat grass, chicken and bonito slices so thin they can dissolve on the tongue, tiny flavored rice treats, and freeze-dried liver snacks.
Since most treats add nothing but calories to a cat’s diet, many pet lovers instead treat their cats with catnip or cat grass, which has negligible nutritional value and can be grown at home.
The Dog Dish
Dogs aren’t as particular as cats in what they like to eat (think of some of the things you’ve caught yours munching on unauthorized!), so a wider range of treats appeals to them.
As with cats, though, treats should make up no more than 10 percent of a dog’s daily nutrition. Know that feeding a dog biscuit is the equivalent of feeding a child a candy bar, so try a smallest-size multigrain, undyed biscuits. And your dog won’t notice if you break one in half to give part now and part later.
Do you like cheese and crackers? Careful about tossing some to your pet. One ounce of cheese to you is like a Big Mac to a 50-pound dog! For canines that are above their ideal weight, choose chew toys and rawhides rather than caloric treats.
If you wonder how many calories are in your pet’s food and treats, read the label. You can find major brand-name goodies for dogs and cats listed at http://www.petobesityprevention.com. If yours isn’t listed, contact the manufacturer. And keep in mind that time spent playing with your cat or taking your dog for an extra long walk is the treat they treasure most.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
We offer pet services such as: Pet Sitting, In-Home Dog Boarding, Dog Walking, Overnights in your home, Doggie Day Care.
310 919 9372