You’ve got a new puppy or kitten. Now what? Spoil it, of course. One of the ways we spoil our pets and ourselves as well is through food. Treats are wonderful for both pets and humans, but healthy treats are the way to go. The most important thing you can do as a new pet parent is to provide a nutritious diet. Picking a diet can be daunting, even for the most experienced pet owners.
The most serious mistake owners make with pets is over-feeding. Too many cats and dogs are overweight, which can lead to many problems. When you bring a new puppy into your home and you begin to train him/her use tiny treats initally and quickly replace them with praise. Break snacks into very small morsels to use as rewards. Avoid getting into the habit of giving goodies every time your dog goes outside to do his/her business. If you do, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of problems – namely obesity and other various health concerns for your dog. A pudgy puppy or king-sized kitty is going to be much more likely to face obesity-related disorders later on in their life. Start measuring food at an early age and follow your vet’s recommendations.
When it comes to selecting puppy and kitten food, do your homework. What you feed your developing pet will have tremendous impact on his/her long-term health and well-being. Whenever possible use low – or no-grain pet foods. Instead of corn or wheat, look for potatoes, oats, barley, rice and chickpeas. For growing puppies and kittens, make sure the label states it’s approved for growth. If you have a puppy that will be over 50 pounds at adulthood, or is at risk for hip or elbow dysplasia, such as Labs, German Shepherds, and Danes, feed a diet specially-formulated for large breeds.
Even little dogs have problems with being overweight. Breeds such as Bassets and Doxies are prone to back injuries due to the length of their bodies. Keeping them svelte is very important as extra weight will invite problems for their backs and legs. Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingneses & Frenchies have pushed in faces, which sometimes causes them to have breathing problems. Less weight will make breathing much easier for them. Pugs are also prone to Luxating Patellas which is a painful condition affecting their knees. Being overweight can cause even more pain for these cute little velcro dogs.
The old saying “we are what we eat” is also relevant for our pets. Chubbiness may be cute, but it is unhealthy. Since our pets have no control over what they eat as they don’t shop for their food, we are responsible for providing healthy and nutritious meals for them. Of course they’ll beg for table scraps looking at you with those beautiful big eyes, but we must use all the willpower we can muster up to ignore their pleading eyes. After all we want them to be a part of our family for years and years to come. Treats are fine in moderation, but keep in mind that overdoing treats can lead to obesity. I always think of a jingle I heard many years ago when it comes to treats for my pets. It goes, “2 treats a day keeps the veterinarian away.” That is what we all strive for – healthy, going to the vet only for well check up pets.
Please keep your pet safe this Christmas and try to avoid “treating” them with holiday goodies. Feed them just before family dinners and perhaps they will avoid begging at the holiday table. Who am I kidding?
Merry Christmas everyone.