For pets, overnutrition is a serious concern


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Think your chubby little puppy is cute? Denise Flaim of Newsday would like to set you straight:

When it comes to our pets, overnutrition is a serious concern. And in many cases the problem is not just how much food you feed, but what kind.


As with any diet change or modification, first consult with your veterinarian or other qualified professional.

Chubby puppies may be cute, but they might very well be priming themselves for health problems down the road.

A 1997 study looked at two groups of Labrador retriever puppies that were fed a high-protein, high-calorie diet for three years: The only difference between them was that one group was free-fed, and the other was not. Not surprisingly, the Labs that were permitted to chow down without restriction were 22 pounds heavier on average than their moderately fed counterparts. They also had significantly higher levels of hip dysplasia.

Weight aside, puppy owners must also be careful not to fuel fast growth spurts: For a dog’s orthopedic health, slow, steady growth is best. For that reason, many experts caution against feeding nutrient-packed puppy food to giant and large-breed puppies, recommending adult food instead.

Adult dogs that pack on the pounds are also imperiling their health, and are at higher risk for everything from heart disease to diabetes.

For the lowdown on cats, read on:

Fat cats and diabetes go together about as nicely as that old-fashioned horse and carriage.


Exacerbating the problem are commercial diets heavy in cereal-based carbohydrates -- not exactly a natural choice for a true carnivore like the cat. To keep diabetes at bay, some feline specialists encourage owners to feed a “catkins” diet -- roughly 40% to 45% protein, 40% to 45% fat, and only 3% to 5% carbohydrates.

Canned cat foods, while more expensive, are far closer to these recommendations than dry.

“Fasting” a cat is possibly the worst idea ever. Cats that do not eat within 24 hours face possible life-threatening repercussions.