Overfeeding Your Pet: Accidental Animal Abuse

Published: 14th September 2010
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There is a type of animal abuse that is prevalent amongst many different kinds of pet owners: overfeeding. When you hear the term "abuse" you tend to think of beating your animal or underfeeding, but indeed overfeeding your animal can lead to health problems as well. Now, this isn’t to say that owners who give in just a bit too frequently to their animals’ pleas should be stripped of their furry friends and stoned in public; it’s mostly a crime of innocent ignorance. This article should provide you with knowledge of the dangerous effects of overfeeding as well as information on how much you should feed your pets on a daily basis.


Dogs


Perhaps the kings of scavenging and begging for food are dogs. Who can resist those puppy eyes peering up at you from underneath the dinner table at night?! Dogs seem to have an appetite that is insatiable, and that’s probably the exact truth of the matter. However, overfeeding your dog can be quite hazardous to his/her health. The biggest risk with overfeeding your dog is obesity. There are many health problems that can plague an overweight dog such as diabetes, muscle and ligament strains, joint deterioration, and arthritis. Your dog can also develop high blood pressure or even congestive heart failure from the overexertion to the heart caused by carrying around the excess weight.


The amount of food that a dog requires varies with breed. According to dogbreedinfo.com, the following is about what you would want to feed your dog based on weight:


• 10 lbs. or less- You should feed no more than 1/3 – 1 cup of dry food or if mixing canned with dry food you should feed ¼ can and ¾ cup dry food.


• 10-25 lbs.- 1-2 ¼ cups of dry food or ½ can and ½ - 1 ½ cups dry food.


• 25-50 lbs. –2 ¼ - 3 ¾ cups dry food or 1 can and 1 – 2 ½ cups dry food.


• 50-75 lbs. – 3 ¾ - 5 cups dry food or 1 ½ cans and 1 ¾ - 3 cups dry food.


• Over 75 lbs. – 5-8 cups of dry food or 2 cans and 2 ½ -5 ¼ cups dry food.


Fish


It’s not very often that you peer into a fish tank and think ‘My, what a fat fish!’. As opposed to obesity the health hazards with overfeeding fish are a bit less obvious and harder to recognize. As a part of their evolution fish have a tendency to eat whenever the opportunity presents itself. In the wild this is a helpful survival tactic, but in your fish tank this can be a serious problem. Your fish will literally eat until their insides explode if you provide them with enough food more frequently than they need it. Overfeeding can cause issues with the water quality in your tank such as producing algae and toxins that are also harmful to your fish. Some diseases that can result from overfeeding your fish are fin rot, fatty liver and improper digestion (petcareeducation.com).


Prevent overfeeding by simply reading the directions on your fish food. For most freshwater fish these directions will be sufficient in explaining how much you should feed. When in doubt, about a pinch of food is enough to feed at least 5 fish.


Cats


The health risks associated with overfeeding your cat are very similar to those associated with overfeeding a dog. The biggest problem is the obesity and the problems caused by it. Some of the common ailments that an obese cat faces are diabetes, liver disease (fatty liver), arthritis, and skin problems. It is also more difficult for an overweight cat to be anesthetized for procedures at the veterinarian’s office as well due to the fact that the anesthetic is taken up by fat. This means that overweight animals take longer to come out of anesthesia and can take longer to recover.


So how much should you feed your cat? According to dogtime.com, the typical 10 lb. cat should be fed 4-6 ounces of canned food or 1/4 – 1/3 cup dry food daily. It is also a good idea to feed your cat twice a day. This doesn’t mean giving the full recommended amount of food twice a day; break up the servings. Leaving food out all day can encourage your cat’s overeating as sometimes, especially seen in in-door cats, they eat because they’re bored (sound familiar?). You may also want to monitor what kind of food you give your cat. Just as you would with your diet, monitor the calorie and carbohydrate in-take of your cat in addition to limiting the amount of food you give them.


These are only a few tips for feeding your pets. As always, you will want to consult your vet as the final word on what’s best for your animal. Like people all animals are different, and the tips shared here may not necessarily be applicable to the particular breed of animal you have or the health issues that may already exist within your pet. The first step to responsible pet ownership is to keep yourself compliant with and informed about your pet’s needs.





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