Fat pets: Treats aren’t the only way to reward your pet


Even if a house cat is clearly overweight, owners will often disagree. Photo: dpa

When is a dog or cat too fat? If you can no longer clearly see your pet’s waistline or feel their ribs under all the padding of fat, then it’s official and you need to do something about it.

Not unlike humans, overweight animals are at risk of high blood pressure, arthrosis, diabetes and tumours, according to animal welfare experts.

And just as with their carers, treats are often to blame for all the extra belly fat. That’s why it’s important you subtract any treats you’re giving them from their daily food portions, instead of just adding them on top whenever they’re good.

It’s even better if you can get out of the habit of rewarding your pet with treats and reward it with a short game (and your attention) instead.

At the same time, you don’t want to put your pet on a hardcore diet. It will be better off on a balanced diet and with adequate exercise, ideally in addition to a health check at the vet and some nutritional counselling.

It’s good to remember that every animal has its own nutritional needs: A puppy needs different food than an older dog, as neutering affects the metabolism and some breeds tend to be overweight.

Britta Dobenecker, an animal dietician from Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University says up 65% of Germany’s cats are actually overweight, although their responsible humans may think otherwise.

Figures from VCA animal hospitals in North America aren’t far off, while in Australia, one in three cats is overweight, according to the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia.

The causes of obesity can be as varied as its consequences, but experts agree that extra tidbits between meals play a major role.

To put it in perspective, 10g of cheese may not be much for a human, but for a cat, it’s equivalent to a person eating three large muffins. For a dog, three slices of salami are like two hamburgers. – dpa

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Pets , fat pets , pet health , obesity , overweight , pet treats


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