< dogscatskidslife, TJ Morgan, veterinary technician, veterinary medicine, consumer, activist, day to day real life events, writer, stories, photographs, photographer, CafePress.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Don't (over) Feed the Animals...

Millions of Americans love their dogs and cats…

to death.

Obesity in American pets is a significant problem and poses major health risks for our little friends. There are approximately 65 million owned dogs in the United States and approximately 40% of them are overweight.

Most obesity in pets is caused by overfeeding, but there are other factors which can make your pet at risk. Breed type, age, sex, spay/neuter status, and activity level are just a few factors that may predispose your pet to obesity. Physiological factors such as hyperadrenocorticism and hypothyroidism can also play a role in obesity. But let’s look at the reason why most pets are overweight which is overfeeding.

Pet owners like to share their lives with their pets. In doing so they also have a tendency to share their food, which is a major component of why our pets are overweight. Feeding our pets out of the refrigerator, off our dinner plates, or even from the drive-in windows at fast food restaurants is bad for their health. High fat diets are particularly dangerous for dogs and can cause life threatening conditions such as pancreatitis and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. At the very least, both of these conditions could mean a lengthy stay at the veterinary hospital with intravenous lines and IV medications. Overweight pets are also at greater risk for developing diabetes. If you don’t feed your pet “people food”, then I applaud you.

There are some common mistakes people make when feeding their dog or cat.

Here are a few that I frequently run across:

1.) Owners estimate how much a “cup” is. You should always use a measuring cup and measure out your pet’s food.

2.) Pet owners don’t take into consideration how many treats or biscuits that they give their pets. If you give your pet additional treats you have to remember that these calories are in addition to what you are measuring out for your pet’s meals. If you are giving a lot of treats, then you must subtract this volume of food from your pet’s daily rations.

3.) Owners don’t know how much their pet should weigh. If you have a chubby pet you must feed it according to how much your pet should weigh. In other words, if you are following the directions on your label for a 30 pound dog, but your pet should weigh 25 pounds, then you are feeding your pet too much food.

4.) Pet owners don’t understand their pet’s life cycle. When your pet becomes mature their caloric needs decline. As pets become older, many are also less active. We are all familiar with the term “middle-aged spread”. Pets reach middle-age much more quickly than we do. Humans tend to forget that many pets are considered geriatric by the time they reach seven years of age. You need to feed your pet the appropriate food for its age.

4.) Pet owners aren’t aware that their breed has a tendency to become obese. Certain breeds of dogs and cats do not match up with the feeding guidelines on the suggested feeding schedules. If you have a breed that has a tendency to be overweight then you will more than likely have to feed less than what is recommended on the label. Remember: Feeding guidelines provided by food manufacturers are just that, they are guidelines. Each pet must be assessed as an individual, and this may take a little time and a little trial and error.

5.) Some pet owners don’t realize that their pet is overweight. Assessing your pet’s body condition isn’t something that everyone really thinks about. A body condition score (BCS) will tell you if your pet is overweight or not. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what your pet’s BCS is if you have difficulty in this area.

If you don’t fit in any of these categories and your pet is still overweight, then you should consider taking your pet to a veterinarian. There could be serious reasons why your pet is overweight and some diagnostic testing would be recommended.

We all enjoy our pets, and we want our pets to live a healthy and long life. What and how you feed your pet is a key component in your pet’s life. An improper diet and obesity increases the risk for disease. Pets experience many of the same diseases that humans do such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Obesity causes many problems and creates unnecessary health risks, many of which could be avoided.

We show our love to our pets by feeding them tasty and yummy morsels. Our dogs and cats show such great excitement and joy over these treats, and it gives us pleasure to make them happy. We need to find different and healthier ways to give them joy. Instead of a treat why not play ball with them or go for a walk. Many of our cats enjoy a new toy, while some love catnip. Either way, we must learn other ways to show our pets that we enjoy and love them… without killing them.


The "End"...

4 Comments:

Blogger AB5SY said...

Yup it sure is.....lol.

All to often, I've seen owners who never allow their pets food dish to be empty.

March 10, 2006 10:08 PM  
Blogger Pattie said...

Hi TJ
Thanks for visiting my blog. I've had a look around yours and there is alot of useful info here. I especially enjoyed the link to ScanUSA. I did not know this service exsisted. Thanks for that important and lifesaving link.
Anyway, our Chesapeake Bay Retriever just passed away this past September. I remember his breeder telling us that feeding a dog "people food" will help him to an early grave. He gave us handouts on many things about caring for our new dog, including the dangers of overfeeding. I used to think that a cup of food wasn't enough because he was 110 lbs.I found whenever I cheated and gave him extra, he quickly became overweight. It is tempting as a pet owner to do this. The day we had to bring him in to euthanize him was heartbreaking indeed. However, the vet told us that based on our dog's condition, we obviously took great care of him. That was a comforting thought.

March 11, 2006 3:49 AM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

I know Wm H.

Cat owners are particularly guilty of this. There aren't many of them who measure their cat's food.

Hey D...

Thanks for the compliments and for visiting my blog.

I'm sorry for your loss. Chesapeakes can be such special dogs. I know that he held a special place in your family.

later...

March 11, 2006 8:01 AM  
Blogger Moof said...

I once saw a beagle that I swear I will never forget as long as I live ...

The poor thing was so fat that it looked like a big brown, black and white sausage on four little feet - with a nose and a tail. It's torso was so large that it rubbed the ground at his middle, and completely hid his legs.

My little beagle is an old girl now - she's 10. But she's still pretty svelte for an old lady. She's never had puppies, although we never had her fixed, and I think that might have helped her maintain her enviable figure.

March 11, 2006 8:24 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home