We all want to show our petshow much we care about them. Unfortunately, many times we show it with food.
Pet obesity has become a huge issue in the last several years (no pun intended), and had led to an increase in obesity-related illnesses that can be prevented. The situation is ironic – as pet owners try to show their pets how much they care by rewarding them with high-calorie treats, they are actually leading the pet down an unhealthy path, lessening their quality and longevity of life.
The same problems that affect obese humans also affect obese pets. Studies show that pets with a little extra girth have a greater risk for developing osteoarthritis and other orthopedic problems, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart and respiratory diseases, reproductive disorders, certain skin conditions, kidney failure, and a number of cancers.
It can be difficult to understand how the treats you give are affecting your pet because of the small portions, which is why Dr. Ernie Ward, a lead researcher at The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, has developed some equivalents that may be more convincing. For example, Dr. Ward says that a single, small dog bone treat given to a 10-pound dog is no different than a person eating two chocolate doughnuts. Now think about how many of those dog bone treats you tend to feed your dog during the day. That’s a lot of doughnuts.
The calories in those treats inevitably cause weight gain. Again, a small amount of weight gain for a pet may not seem like too big of a deal, but Dr. Ward explains that 3 extra pounds on a 15-pound Boston Terrier is like 30 extra pounds on a 150-pound person. Some other equivilants to think about:
A 90-pound female Labrador Retriever is equivalent to a 186-pound 5-foot, 4-inch female.
A 12-pound Yorkshire Terrier is similar to a 223-pound 5-foot, 4-inch female.
A 15-pound cat is equivalent to a 225-pound 5-foot, 9-inch male.
A 20-pound cat equals a 300-pound 5-foot, 9-inch male.
Each extra pound on a cat is equal to about 13 pounds on the average female and 15 pounds on a male.
So, before you reward you pet with another treat, remember what that treat may mean. Try rewarding him with verbal praise, or a tummy rub instead. Teach your dog that affection can be shown without food, and keep him happy and healthy for many years to come!
Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue.