Friday, December 12, 2008

Obesity: How much to feed a pet

We all know that it is important that our pet receives the proper nutrition in order to maintain and repair body tissues and to meet their energy requirements. You should feed your pet according to his size and energy output. The pet’s activity level is important in determining the amount of calories that it needs. A pet that stays indoors will require fewer calories than a pet that regularly gets exercise outside. Outside temperatures also will influence your pet’s energy needs. It takes more energy to keep warm or cool, which requires more caloric intake. Animals that are ill or recovering from surgery may need higher nutrition for healing and to fight infection. Though I am all for feeding free will, i.e. let the pet eat as much as it wants, this method is not recommended for every pet. Some of them don’t know when to stop and need our help in pacing them. Rather than letting your pet feed freely at will, it is a good idea to feed your pet with portion control. You measure the amount of food necessary one or more times daily. Portion control is good for weight control. If your puppy is a giant breed dog, do not free feed him. If he overeats, it can cause him to grow more rapidly by consuming too many calories and calcium, which can cause a greater incidence of bone diseases. Puppies require at least twice to 4 times as much energy intake as adults and typically need 25 to 30 percent more protein. Be sure to feed your puppy food especially formulated for puppies for the first year. A small breed dog, I would say up to 15 lbs, will reach mature body weight at about 9 to 12 months, while a large or giant breed may not be there until they are 2 years old. This however, in my opinion does not require it to be fed puppy food for the first two years. As a matter of fact, the above times are guidelines are commonly recommended, I personally believe that a puppy can be switched to a high quality adult formula somewhere between 8 and 12 months of age.By eight weeks, kittens can be fed freely as their need for energy intake is two to three times that of an adult cat. Thirty percent of their total energy needs should be from protein. It’s best to offer your kitten formulas especially made for kittens for their first year. Always make sure to provide plenty of drinking water.Obesity is a common problem that can be detrimental to your pet. It increases the risk for diabetes, joint pain and liver disease. Obesity is caused by your pet consuming more calories than it can burn. These excess calories are then stored as fat. A pet of normal weight should have a “waist” between the back of the rib cage and the hips. You should be able to feel your pet’s backbone, and if you need to press to feel your pet’s ribs, there is an excess of fat. Some dogs are more prone to obesity, such as Labrador retrievers and pugs. The same applies to older dogs. To overcome obesity, talk to your vet about selecting the appropriate food for your pet. Also look for low fat, or reduced calorie formulas. Calculate and give your pet the right amount of food. High fiber diets dilute calories but lead to an increased amount of stools and can decrease the digestibility of nutrients. Not food related, increasing the amount of physical exercise helps too to avoid obesity. This will not only burn more calories, it will also reduce your pet’s appetite, change his body composition, and increase his metabolic resting rate. Some things you can do to help your pet lose weight are to remove your pet from the room while you are eating (or better yet, simply don’t feed human food), feed your pet more often smaller portions, reduce the amount of treats, and give your pet other attention that does not include food.

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