Pet Talk: Out of the pound, but packing on the pounds
Pet Talk: Out of the pound, but packing on the pounds

Dear Pet Talk: How do we keep our pets thin and trim? — Sherman Whitman, K-Zone

Dear Sherman: A timely question — a number of agencies who monitor information from vets report that some 100 million cats and dogs are considered obese. In short, more than half of owned dogs and cats are carrying extra weight.

Being heavy puts a pet at great risk for a number of health problems, including osteo-arthritis and joint inflammation, cardiovascular and endocrine malfunction, and metabolic abnormalities. A heavy pet is more likely to have severe health challenges and a shorter life. Smaller dogs are more likely to be obese, and pugs top the list.

How can you help your pet lose weight?

First, be a responsible pet owner the moment you adopt. Know how much your pet weighs, and read labels on food so you are not giving your pet more calories than they need.

The rule of thumb for dogs and cats is 25 to 30 calories per pound per day. Your 10-pound cat should have no more than 300 calories a day, including treats. (Most cat treats are one to two calories each – give these sparingly – not by the handful).Your 50-pound dog should consume around 1,400 calories per day.

For families with a pet, figuring out portion sizes will help your children use math skills.

And remember: A spayed and neutered pet is a healthy pet but is more likely to be sedentary. Do not substitute food for attention and exercise! They’re not asking for a treat — they’re asking for you to pay attention to them, pet them, and show them some love.

Sally Cragin is the director of Be PAWSitive: Therapy Pets and Community Education. Send questions to and listen to “Sally Cragin’s Pet Talk” on K-Zone Friday mornings.