No doubt you have seen overweight dogs at the park or tubby cats lounging on neighborhood porches. The pet obesity problem, like with humans, is part diet and part inactivity. Rest easy--there are ways to ensure your pet doesn't gain weight, particularly if you are feeding it people food.
Betsy Saul, co-founder of PetFinder.com says, "A serving size of food for pets depends on the animal's age, size and even activity level--just like humans! Pet food bags and cans often recommend that you feed your pet a certain amount of food per day. Remember that this guide is not absolute. You should monitor your pet's weight carefully. If he gains weight, you should feed him less, and vice versa."
Regarding home-cooked meals, Saul suggests feeding your pet about the same amount as you would pet food. She adds, "6 ounces for an average-sized dog is a good estimate. [And] if you are mixing 'people food' into your pet's dish, keep it to bite-sized portions."
Some pets don't know when to stop eating, while others stay trim on a free-feed diet. And, still yet, some pets that don't overeat pet food will overeat people food. Be cautious about your pet's overall diet--monitor portions for both people food and pet food. Saul warns, "You don't want to overfeed your pet--animal obesity is just as dangerous as [obesity] for humans."
Another key in keeping your pawed pal healthy is to take the time to keep your pet active. You can workout with your pet to keep you both fit and you can also enter one of the many canine competitions held around the country.
"There are quite a few foods and beverages we can consume that our pets should not, including onions, garlic, mushrooms, macadamia nuts and alcoholic or caffeinated drinks," says Saul.
She explains, "For instance, if you are using baby food in any meals for your pet, read the label first to make sure it doesn't contain onion powder. That being said, whenever you are cooking a meal for yourself and your pets, you should substitute ingredients or reserve a 'pet-friendly' portion beforehand." Then you can add other ingredients and seasonings to the meal to make it palatable for you, your spouse and your kids.
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