Veterinarian: Calorie counting helps optimize pet health

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One vet worries that dogs and cats are overeatingA veterinarian and professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University recently released guidelines for cat and dog owners who are concerned with pet health.

Through advice and education, Dr Susan Nelson is attempting to curb the troubling trend that, in recent years, more pets are becoming obese.

The veterinarian points out that overweight pets could benefit from their owners counting calories and strictly apportioning only the amount of food suitable for the dog or cat. She notes that manufacturers of pet food have begun listing nutritional information on the package, including calorie content.

Given the type of food a dog or cat is eating, the animal’s metabolism, and the typical exercise patterns of the pet, Nelson says a veterinarian will be able to make a recommendation on an ideal calorie intake.

"Generally, I tell people that unless your pet is overweight, go with the guidelines on the food bag," Nelson said. "If the pet is a little overweight, you should feed it for its ideal weight and not for its current weight." Finally, she explains, calories from treats should not exceed 10 percent of the pet’s diet.

The online magazine Dog Owner’s Guide recommends a premium meat or fish-based food with about 25 percent protein and 13 percent fat for optimal nutrition in puppies and grown dogs.

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