You might watch your daily calorie intake or glance over nutritional information on food packages, but do you do the same for your pet?
Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University, said there are several guidelines to follow when feeding your pet to ensure that it maintains good health.
Just like human food packages, many cat and dog food packages contain nutritional information, Nelson said. Packages often list the kilocalories, protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber per cup. In recent years, manufacturers started listing some nutritional information, including calorie content, for dog and cat treats.
"In the past, we didn't know how many calories were in various treats," Nelson said. "Now that's becoming more available, and that's because more pets are becoming obese and their owners are asking for that information. Pets are overeating and underexercising, and they're eating too many high-fat foods and treats."
Nelson said these plumper pets are not only benefitting from improvements in pet food quality, but also from the increased calorie content caused by the higher fat content of many premium diets. But does that call for owners to start counting calories for their pets?
"It's important to count calories if the pet is overweight, but it's probably not necessary if you have a pet that is of normal weight," Nelson said. "If it starts to get pudgy, you need to take a look at how much exercise it is getting, how much food you are feeding it, and how many treats you're giving it."
Calories from treats should be no more than 10 percent of your pet's diet. If owners want to count their pet's calories, Nelson said, veterinarians can make diet calculations for dogs and cats. The overall recommendation for the amount of food to feed your pet is based on several factors, including the type of food you are feeding your pet, your pet's metabolism and how mu
|Contact: Susan Nelson|
Kansas State University