Obesity and Pets: What to Feed an Overweight Pet
October 27, 2011 -
The wide-eyed gaze of a begging pet hoping to receive just a tiny taste of a treat is a weakness for any pet parent. Whether it’s avoiding the guilt of denying their pet any smidgen of table scraps or just not knowing the appropriate amount to feed, many parents end up with overweight pets prone to health risks.
According to a 2010 survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 55 percent of dogs and 53 percent of cats are overweight or obese. These staggering numbers can also be linked to a growing number of pets developing weight-related health ailments such as arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes.
This problem, however, can be corrected with a simple change in diet. It all begins with choosing the right food and feeding the right amount. For pets that are overweight, a reduced calorie diet may be the best option. For pets that are just needing to maintain their current weight, a regular diet fed in appropriate quantities combined with adequate exercise, such as scheduled walks and playtime, should be all that is needed.
Selecting a diet high in protein, high in fat and low in carbohydrates is essential to maintaining your dog’s weight and healthy lifestyle. When fed an overabundance of carbohydrates, your pet’s body will store the unused calories as fat, leading to weight gain. You can reverse this cycle by feeding your pet high-quality food with meat listed as the first ingredient and by speaking with your veterinarian about proper portion control.
Moderation is also key in maintaining your pet’s weight. Leaving food out in the open for grazing throughout the day can lead to overeating for certain breeds of dogs and cats. Try putting your pet on a regimented feeding schedule to monitor his or her daily caloric intake. This can also help occupy pets at dinnertime who are accustomed to lingering around kitchen table. And consider substituting vegetables like carrots in place of table scraps and treats.