Important considerations in choosing food for dogs and cats

Research has shown that among the United States and other countries, 40% of pets are obese. The number one nutritional problem for pets is obesity. So what do you do if you notice you are the owner of a fat cat or pudgy canine? Believe it or not, there are things you can do to help your pet shed pounds. Today, I would like to share with you ways you can prevent obesity in your pet, and tips to help your pet trim down.

People and pet owners are probably the biggest reason animals become overweight. Let’s face it, how many times have we fed Fido from the table? Given him treats? Or do you allow your pets to eat freely throughout the day? The things I just mentioned are some of the biggest factors in weight gain and the good news is they all can be stopped!

First, let’s go over what you need to do if you think your pet may be considered obese. You should take your pet to your veterinarian so he/she can assess your pet’s overall health, body weight, and body condition. A numbering system (similar to humans Body Mass Index) called the Body Condition System (BCS) is used to categorize your pet as lean, overweight, or obese. Numbers 8 or 9 means the animal is clinically obese and steps need to be taken right away to reduce the amount of fat.

When you are feeding your dog or cat, it is important for you to know how many calories your pet needs, and how many servings of dog/cat food they should be given in one day. The amount of calories your pet needs per day will vary depending on what kind of lifestyle he leads. Pets with low amounts of energy will need less calories than a pet with endless energy.

Keep in mind the serving size on the pet food is calculated for an active, intact animal. The serving size should decrease by 20-30% for neutered animals, or house pets. Dogs should be fed twice a day and kept on a consistent routine. Leaving a food bowl out all day is a common cause of overeating.

You should also limit the number of treats you are feeding your dog (especially ones from the dinner table). Giving your dog a treat is an important interaction between you and your pet, you just need to adjust your dog’s caloric intake accordingly. Excess calories will be stored as fat on your pet and if you want to give your pet multiple treats in a day, you will need to either increase the amount of exercise your pet is getting, or you will have to decrease the amount of food.

Obesity in cats is just as prevalent. Inside cats’ caloric intake needs to be watched closely. If you are overfeeding your inside cat, the odds of him becoming obese increase dramatically. Cats should be fed small meals two to four times per day (again, stick to a consistent routine) using a specific amount of food. Activity in cats can be increased by purchasing toys to increase movement in your cat. Cats respond to movement and activity, so you would be best finding a toy (such as a mouse, or something on a string) to keep him engaged.

Obesity in pets is incredibly dangerous and is unfortunately becoming more and more common. It is your responsibility as a pet owner to watch what your pet is eating and to make sure they are getting enough exercise. Keep your pet healthy by making sure they are at their optimal weight and they get plenty of exercise! Obese pets have a higher risk of early death than average size pets – so to keep your pet around by watching their calories! If you start to notice weight gain, make sure you are following the serving suggestions and make sure your pet is getting all the exercise he needs!

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