Over the last several decades, we began subscribing to the “bigger is better” mentality and everything grew exponentially in size. Houses. Cars. Cell phones. And unfortunately, our food consumption.
Over time, we seemed to have lost track of normal serving sizes. (Just do a quick Google search for popcorn and soda serving sizes circa 1970s —the comparison is rather alarming.) How did we get here? Probably due to a myriad of reasons, but “value sizing,” or wanting more food for your dollar, paired with eating at restaurants too often has certainly left us with a giant case of portion distortion.
How does that affect our pets?
Since our own view on portion sizes is warped, it’s no surprise that we’re overfeeding our pets. Sadly, about 53% of pets in the US are overweight and at risk for developing serious health problems. Portion control is mandatory to keep your pet at a healthy weight, and the amount of continually increasing animal obesity indicates that we’re falling short as responsible pet parents.
Every single calorie counts. Think about it this way—there’s about 400 calories in a cup of dry dog food. Let’s say you unknowingly overfeed Cookie, your cocker spaniel, just 1/8 cup too much each day (50 calories). In only 1 year, poor Cookie will have packed on 5 pounds! If she continues on that path for a couple more years, Cookie will become lethargic, she’ll put extra stress on her joints, and she’s sure to have a much shorter lifespan.
Other culprits you must watch out for are snacks, table scraps, and treats. Maybe you’re thinking, “I feed Cookie exactly the right amount for breakfast and dinner,” but you give her some treats at night because she’s such a good girl. Or, you’re eating dinner and she’s adorably begging for a bite of your scrumptious burger. Yes, her little face is hard to resist, but if you’re giving her these tasty tidbits, be sure to account for those extra calories in her daily food expenditure, because they add up quickly!
Your role as “Food Police”
The first step in fighting portion distortion and combating the calorie craze is knowing the right amount to feed your four-legged fur ball. That amount is determined by various factors like age, weight and activity level. It’s not one-size-fits-all, and it will fluctuate over time as her needs change. Talk to your vet or check out our app to figure out the proper quantity of nosh for your babe.
You’ve also got to be conscientious about every treat, table scrap and snack that you give Cookie. If you keep slipping her bits of human food because “she likes it,” you’re not doing her any favors. Instead, give her toys, snuggles, and belly rubs if you want to spoil her.
Remember that bigger is not always better… and in this case, less is more!