This article is sponsored content brought to you by Hill’s.
“Food is love” to many pet owners and they often don’t consider or understand how many calories can be packed into a treat.
Too many treats can add lots of unnecessary calories to our feline and canine friend’s diets and is one of the biggest contributors to the bulging bellies we are seeing more often in practice. Treats should be less than 10% of the daily calories our pets consume, however this is a really hard concept for pet owners to understand.
So what can we do? The best time to discuss obesity and prevention is when you see the pet before they are overweight (for example at their puppy and kitten vaccinations or their 18 month booster). Educating the pet parent about making wise treat and food choices before they get into the habit will likely have the best impact, however any time is a good time (well, maybe not during an emergency or serious illness!) to discuss weight.
Educate owners to choose commercial treats that provide the calorie content. There are some great lower calorie option treats available now and you stock some at your practice.
Use the table below to discuss with pet parents how many calories are in some commonly used treats . Just as with any food, we can calculate the calorific content of snacks. Many owners are surprised when they see how much of their pet’s daily recommended intake is taken up with treats.
Another great tool is the dog/cat treats to human treat equivalents charts (see right) which can be a real eye opener for pet parents! We can help owners to choose better treats or to use some of their pets’ designated daily ration instead. Why not share ideas for alternative rewards. A walk or play time can not only strengthen their pet-owner bond but also help the pet (& their owner) get a bit of added exercise. A clear win-win!
By Dr Danielle Page, BVSc, Bcom, Hill’s Professional Consulting Veterinarian