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How Much Should I Feed My Dog (or Cat)?

Updated on March 15, 2012

How much you feed your pet can be as important as what you feed your pet.

Overfeeding may very well be the most common pet-care mistake people make. Keep an eye on your dog or cat's weight, and control how much he eats accordingly. Fat cats and dogs are more likely to suffer from joint disorders, heart disease, and other ailments.

The way to tell if your pet is overweight is by looking and feeling.

A trim dog or cat looks lean and firm. He should not have a sagging tummy. A dog should have a clearly defined waistline behind the rib cage. Feel the ribs along the underside of the torso to detect. If you can easily feel each rib, that's good. If you can't feel any ribs at all, that's bad.

If your pet does have a weight problem, make an appointment to see the veterinarian. He or she can rule out any serious health problems that may be causing your pet's puffiness. Then your vet can help you develop a kitty or doggie diet plan.

It's best to divide your pet's total allocation of chow into two or three small meals rather than one big one. Your little guy won't feel so hungry and will be less inclined to beg at the dinner table. Try not to give your pets snacks throughout the day. If you feel you must, offer something low in calories, like a carrot for your dog or a teaspoon of fat-free cottage cheese for your cat.

Determining what constitutes the right amount of exercise for your dog will depend on the breed. Most dogs need at least half an hour a day to stretch their muscles and get their hearts pumping.

Besides, exercising your dog becomes a good incentive to exercise yourself. You may want to plop down in front of the TV, but it's impossible to resist the plea in those big brown eyes. Fulfilling your responsibility means taking him on walks or runs in the park, having him chase balls or retrieve sticks, or giving him the opportunity to romp with fellow pups.

These activities also satisfy a great psychological need. Dogs have simple mentalities. It's hard for us to comprehend how exciting it is for them to walk around checking out smells. It's like our going to the movies or visiting friends. They love it.


Cats are another story...

Cats don't have the stamina to romp around for long periods of time the way dogs do. Cats tend to get the exercise they need in shorter spurts, he says. You can help your little tiger stay fit and happy by playing games with him for 10 to 15 minutes a day.

Cats get a kick out of chasing lightweight balls and playing with toys on strings. Having two kitties so they can wrestle with each other is also a good way of providing exercise.

Remember that whenever your animal ventures into the great outdoors, a host of dangers can present themselves, including fights with other animals, poisons on grass or in trash, and run-ins with motor vehicles.

Protect your vulnerable friends by keeping a careful eye on them. Fences and leashes protect dogs - and people, too.


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