We have identified the four most common human behaviors that have led us to have so many (80 million) overweight dogs and cats. These are listed below along with some suggestions on how to change or address each one.
Lack of knowledge about how much you should feed your pet given their age and activity level
It’s no secret that reading pet food labels can be confusing. And for the most part, the feeding instructions contained on the packaging is so generic that it provides little guidance as to how much you should feed your dog or cat given their age, activity level, and current and target weight. The table below, is meant to provide a comparison of how differing sizes and activity levels can dramatically impact the amount of calories that are required for a dog.
Approximate Calories Burned for varying weight and activity
|Dog Weight (lbs)||10||40||70|
|15 minutes, light activity||290||821||1,248|
|30 minutes, vigorous activity||310||870||1,320|
Failure to properly measure food servings
Even if you have an idea of the correct amount to feed your dog or cat, that alone does not guarantee that you will succeed in doing so! It seems that a lot of us don’t properly measure what we feed our pets. The result is that we usually provide more calories than our pet requires. This issue is also a cause of weight problems in humans and is a pretty easy one to solve. Just measure! Use a marked measuring scoop so you know that a 1/2 cup is really a 1/2 cup or 2 cups is really 2 cups, etc.
Failure to account for ‘treats’ and human snacks that are provided to your pet each day
This one is somewhat related to the prior point– if you don’t keep track of what you feed your pet you will not know by how much you are missing the target. Many people, in fact almost 100% of the dog and cat owners that I know, feed their pets either treats, human food or both. I know that I do! And there is nothing wrong with doing so as long as you know how many treats per day you are actually feeding your pet and adjust their breakfast and dinner accordingly.
One way to do this is to use plastic baggies and fill them up in the morning with the allocated treats for the day. Now you can not only limit the amount of treats that are fed but you can also calculate how many extra calories from treats are being consumed by your pet each day.
Lack of proper exercise for your pet
Dogs and cats,were born to run and move around. Unfortunately, in the aggregate, neither are doing so in the proper amounts which is part of the reason why we have a pet weight/obesity problem. The solution is very simple. Get up and move! Take your dog for a 30-45 minute walk each day when possible. Like to run? Even better. Take your dog with you. Not into cardio so much? Go to the dog park or play fetch with you dog, again for 30-45 minutes per day. Bottom line is to get up and move.
Not only will your pet benefit, you might discover that you too, will shed some extra weight and feel a lot better.