Pet obesity is a real problem for many American households. The phenomenon is one worth researching because excess weight on your dog and cat can lead to serious health problems. Statistically, obese animals have shortened lifespans because they’re more likely to develop serious diseases. As with your own diet, moderation is the key to good health for your dog and cat, too.
This is what happens when you give your pet too many treats:
- They consume more calories than they burn. When this happens, they start to put on extra weight, the same way humans do if they’re not active enough. Fat stores on the body of the cat or dog which can cause a jump in their weight. They no longer can move as easily because there is strain on their muscles and joints. This can cause them to become obese over time and very ill if not monitored.
- They come to expect a reward every time they do something normal. Giving your pet a treat when they’re being potty trained or litter boxed trained is acceptable. Once it starts to become a habit, however, no treats should be given. If you reward your cat or dog each time they go to the bathroom, it will be impossible to taper them off the treats. There are other ways to show that you’re pleased with your pet. Treats can do more harm than they do good especially if they’re laden with calories like most brands are. The same can be said about “people food”. You’ll learn quickly what foods dogs cannot eat.
- One pet may get aggressive with another over a treat. Even if you reward both animals, one may snatch the other animal’s treat and eat it as an act of dominance. You may not even know that it is happening because the one pet is so fast that you don’t see it happening. To avoid conflicts, feed a treat to your pets in separate spaces or at different times so you can watch what they’re doing while they eat it.
It’s natural to want to reward your pet for good behavior. It’s something you shouldn’t do on a regular basis, however, if you want to keep your dog or cat at a healthy weight. There are other ways to show that you’re satisfied with their behavior.
You can verbally show pleasure by telling them that they’re “a good boy” or “a good girl”. You can spend time stroking their fur and patting their head as a form of positive reinforcement. You can take time out of your day to play with them or take them for a walk.
Once your pet understands that he or she will not be getting extra treats after you’ve given them to your dog or cat, they’ll eventually forget that the food reward existed in the first place. You’ll then have no problem monitoring your pet’s diet and weight. Downloading the Petrics app is a great way to stay on top of these details and also to answer the questions of “What kinds of human foods can my cat eat?”