Are You Overfeeding Your Cat or Dog?

Based on Pet Health Data

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You adore your pets, but proving your affection with extra food and treats is a dangerous way to show your love. Obesity is one of the most common diseases that affects pets, made worse by how easily preventable most of the cases are. Often, a pet’s obesity could have been avoided by an owner who did not spoil them, and rather fed and exercised their dog or cat accordingly. 

What Constitutes an Overweight Pet

According to Banfield's Applied Research and KnowledgeTeam, the rate of overweight and obese pets – about 1 in 4 dogs and 1 in 3 cats – has reached epidemic levels in the USA. In the past five years, diagnoses have increased 30% in dogs and a 111% in cats. These conditions are linked to numerous other diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. Partly due to their anatomical predispositions, short-nosed breeds like bulldogs and pugs can also develop breathing conditions if their weight is not properly managed. 

Your pet does not have the reasoning ability to monitor his or her own food intake. Dogs and cats will eat strictly for the joy of eating, not realizing the health risks they are subjecting themselves to in their overindulgence. Monitoring a pet’s eating habits and keeping them as healthy and happy as possible is the responsibility of the owner.

An overweight pet is not a cute pet. Obesity is a disease and should be treated – it severely lowers your pet’s quality of life, and raises your pet’s likelihood of contracting other health conditions. The best way to prevent or treat your pet’s obesity is to feed appropriate portions of a high-quality, complete, and balanced pet food.

Common Misconceptions

Myth: I can leave food out all the time. My pet will only eat as much as he or she needs.

Fact: While some pets will self-regulate how much they eat, most pets will overeat if an owner keeps their food bowl full. You should measure your pet’s daily food. Your veterinarian can help determine the appropriate amount to feed your pet to maintain a healthy weight.

Myth: Steak, cheese and other foods are fine for me, so they must be fine to feed my pet.
Fact: The excessive amounts of fat and calories in human foods can easily lead to obesity in pets.

Myth: Pet food packaging gives accurate portions on the label. If I just follow those, my pet will be a good weight.
Fact: The portions indicated on pet nutrition labels are based on an average pet. Individual pet needs may vary by as much as 25%. The portions indicated on labels are based on the number of 8-ounce cups to be fed. Don’t make the mistake of using a coffee can as a “cup” for measurement, and be sure to know how to properly read a pet food label. 

Need More Information?

Consult the Nutrition Guide to learn more about your pet’s welfare, or visit your local Banfield veterinarian to ask about the appropriate brand and amount to feed your pet, as well as to answer any other questions you may have about the health and wellbeing of your dog or cat.