With the advent of each New Year, we’ve grown accustomed to the barrage of news and information about diet and weight loss. As media pundits continue to expound on the current obesity epidemic in the human population, many people may not know that an astonishing 55% of pet cats and 53% of pet dogs are overweight.
We’ve all seen them: Those giant cats and dogs that have become couch potatoes. They jump up for food, but could care less about a toy. Fat cats and dogs seem to make most people smile, except veterinarians. Veterinarians know that obesity in animals is a major health problem. Studies have shown that obese pets live, on average, three years less than lean pets. Three years! Our furry friends don’t live long enough, yet we’re willing to allow so many of them to be overweight. Like people, these pets are at high risk for diabetes, heart disease and joint problems, all of which can be costly to treat.
Pet obesity is generally a result of overfeeding. Similar to people, dogs and cats gain weight by consuming more calories than they’re using. It’s the old “calories in–calories out” theory. A compounding issue is the lack of information regarding treats and biscuits. Dog and cat treats are similar to candy bars. Would you give your child two to four candy bars each day? Many of us don’t think twice about tossing a treat to our furry friends. The calorie range for most treats is between 25-125, depending on the size. For example, a large sized Milk Bone dog biscuit contains 115 calories. Although that may not seem like a lot, it is when you find out that the average 50-pound dog requires less than 750 calories per day.
The best tool to combat obesity is the measuring cup! Using a mug or a BigGulp cup to portion out your pet’s meals doesn’t give an accurate measure of the amount you’re feeding. Your family veterinarian can calculate the exact calories your pet should consume and help you feed the correct amount to keep your pet healthy. We’re sure that every pet owner would agree to trade a few calories and treats for a few more years with their best friend! www.newtownvets.com
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