Food, Obe­sity and Pets

Kapi-Mana News - - REGION -

As I said in last month’s ar­ti­cle; feed­ing your pet a good diet is the sin­gle most im­por­tant thing you can do for their health and well- be­ing. We all know that if we eat the right amount of good qual­ity food and that it is balanced we are more likely to be healthy and live longer. It isn’t rocket sci­ence and it is no dif­fer­ent for our pets. A large pro­por­tion of health is­sues suf­fered by hu­mans are di­rectly at­trib­ut­able to poor di­ets. Heart disease (due to high fat di­ets), high blood pres­sure (with ex­cess salt a fac­tor), di­a­betes, obe­sity (with as­so­ci­ated joint and back disease), dental prob­lems and cer­tain can­cers, in­clud­ing bowel can­cer are all strongly linked to diet. ‘Can­cer Re­search UK’ re­ports that un­healthy di­ets cause nearly one in ten can­cer cases in the UK. In ve­teri­nary medicine we also see di­etary linked dis­eases. For­tu­nately they are not as preva­lent as with hu­mans be­cause pets can’t feed them­selves bad di­ets like we do. How­ever, the most com­mon di­rectly di­etary- caused prob­lem we do see with pets is obe­sity. Obe­sity is when they are 15-20% over their ideal weight. This means if an av­er­age NZ cat is 5kg then they are obese when they weigh in at 6kg. That is the equiv­a­lent of 2 blocks of but­ter in ex­cess fat! As with hu­mans it is mainly due to how much is eaten. It can be what is eaten too if they are fed high fat di­ets, such as poor qual­ity pet rolls (which are a by-prod­uct of the meat in­dus­try off- cuts) or if pets are fed lots of in­ap­pro­pri­ate hu­man food. I knew a very fat lit­tle Chi­huahua dog that was only ever fed saveloys and ice- cream! She died of a com­pli­ca­tion of the obe­sity at the young age of seven. Ex­er­cise has less im­pact on weight although it is still very im­por­tant to help man­age weight, keep the heart and blood pres­sure in a good state and help with mus­culo- skele­tal health. Again this is all the very same as with hu­mans. One as­pect of the dry foods that can be an is­sue is that be­cause they are so con­cen­trated, in that they con­tain very lit­tle water, dogs and cats only need a small amount each day to main­tain their health and weight. An av­er­age 30kg dog usu­ally needs only 2 teacups of pre­mium dry food a day, and most cats only need about 4 ta­ble­spoons a day. The good news with this is that you will not only have a health­ier pet, but save money.

By Dr Ian Schraa, Rap­paw Ve­teri­nary Care se­nior vet­eri­nar­ian and owner

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