Millions of well-meaning pet owners are putting their dog or cat's life in jeopardy.
Some of the things pet owners do each day could cause their pet to suffer a serious illnesses as they mature, or even cause an early death.
For good behavior, Jeff Neely rewards his dog, Jake, with a treat.
"There you go," Neely said. "Want another one? You gotta be good. Let me see your paw."
In Jake's case, he gets several treats. No harm – right?
Too many treats and heaping scoops of food are packing pounds on our pooches.
Jake's weight problem started six years when he was a pup.
"Instead of one cup in the morning and one cup at night, it was two cups in the morning and two cups at night," Neely recalled.
So, why was he feeding Jake so much food? Neely says he was simply following the feeding recommendations on the dog food bag, but what he didn't realize is that Jake was getting more food than he needed.
"The more we feed, the more pet food we buy," said Veterinarian Kay Wahl.
It's important for pet owners to talk with a vet about their pet's ideal weight, and how often and how much to feed one's pet.
Most the feeding schedules on dog food bags are formulated for active dogs.
"Unfortunately in our society, there are not a lot of active dogs," Wahl said. "Most of them are sitting on the couch or going for very short walks, so the calorie intake over the exercise is very much skewed."
According to the Association for Pet Obesity, veterinary clinics surveyed in 36 states reported more than half of the dogs and cats evaluated were overweight or obese.
"I think that's the number one cause of disease in our pets today," Wahl said.
Some of these diseases include diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and cancer.
Well-meaning pet owners who give their dog or cat table scraps, extra food, or too many treats, could be causing their pet to die sooner.
"We are shortening their life span by up to 1.8 years," Wahl said.
Stewart is a 12-year-old cat and he tips the scales at nearly 21 pounds.
"I saw Stewart about a month ago," and Wahl added, "We had a serious discussion about obesity."
Wahl told Stewart's owner it was time to do something or else her cat may not live very long.
"I had his mom start moving his food bowl so he gets to eat upstairs sometime and downstairs other times," and Wahl added, "He's got to run up and down stairs--kitty stairmaster!"
Ask your vet to help you determine your pet's optimal weight.
"There's actually very precise formulas we can work out on how many calories a day your pet should be ingesting, how many calories are in that cup of food that you're feeding, and make recommendations from there," Wahl said.
Use scales at home to weigh your pet or take them to your vet for a regular weigh-in between annual exams. Most vets do not charge a fee for just a weigh in.
As for those treats, avoid giving the big one to your pet.
"If you can't break your habit of giving them a treat, at least decrease the amount of treat," Wahl recommended.
If you're supposed to give them one cup per meal, don't give them any extra.
Wahl says this is extremely importance.
"I have a lot of clients come in and say, they're using a coffee cup," she said. "Well, look in your cabinet. Some coffee cups are small, some coffee cups are big gulp cups. So, they actually need to use a dry measure one cup device."
Remember, the most important decision you'll make for your pet is deciding what and how much to feed it. Your pet's life depends on it.
Instead of feeding your pet processed treats from a store, try giving them small pieces of apples, carrots, broccoli or cucumber.
There is a rather extensive list of toxic fruits and vegetables you should never give them which includes – grapes, raw onions and macadamia nuts.
Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
The following information is from the American Veterinary Medical Association:
AVMA Collections: Obesity in dogs summary (Source: https://www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Pages/AVMA-Collections-Obesity-in-dogs-summary.aspx).
The following information is from the American Animal Hospital Association (Source: http://www.aahanet.org/blog/NewStat/post/2013/03/20/619052/Weight-issues-continue-to-expand-for-US-dogs-and-cats.aspx)
The following information is from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (Source: http://www.petobesityprevention.com/about/)
Kibble Crack – Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats (Source: http://www.petobesityprevention.com/kibble-crack-%e2%80%93-vet-exposes-sugary-secret-of-pet-treats/
The following information is from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in an online article entitled "Pet Obesity Rates Rise, Cats Heavier Than Ever" (Source: http://www.petobesityprevention.com/2012-national-pet-obesity-survey-results/)