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Do you know what's in your pet's treats

Pet obesity is a growing problem in the UK, leading to an increase in diseases like diabetes. Heart disease, pancreatitis, liver disease and arthritis are worsened by excessive weight too. Portion control (weighing out food rather than just filling a bowl) and increasing exercise can help, but for many dogs and cats, reducing treats and human food can play a huge role.

Most owners are unaware of the calorie content of the treats they feed. Gram for gram, the calorie content of many treats rivals that of human fast food items. Direct Line is currently running a campaign calling for clearer labelling on cat and dog treats. It is currently very difficult for owners to make informed choices when choosing treats, and the calorie content of treats is generally underestimated.

Their study found that “Dreamies” cat treats contain 5% more calories gram for gram than a glazed ring donut. A “Bonio” gram for gram contains about 53% more calories than a Mc Donalds Big Mac. An adult Labrador being exercised normally needs about 10 956 calories per day. A single Bonio biscuit works out at 7% of this recommended allowance, the equivalent of a Chunky Kitkat for a human adult man. Misfits Wonky chomps had almost three times the calorie content of Bonios per treat, with a whopping 255kcalories in each treat. The sad reality is that many dogs are smaller than a Labrador, are not exercised enough and receive more than one “Bonio” or treat daily. Two of the biggest calorie culprits are “chews”, rawhide chews and pigs ears. A 190g rawhide treat contains 699kcal, or 67% of a 20kg dog’s daily food allowance (the equivalent of 7 doughnuts). A dried pigs ear contains 21% of a 20kg dog’s daily allowance. The number of overweight animals being seen these days is therefore not surprising.

Human food can be just as easy to misjudge, as even “healthy” food can contain far too many calories for a small pet. 60g of cheddar cheese contains about a quarter of a day’s calorie allowance for a 20kg dog. Just 30g of cheddar cheese works out at 60% of a cat’s daily allowance. 25g of tuna is about a quarter of a cat’s daily food requirements, and 2 teaspoons of yoghurt add up to 20% of a cat’s food allowance. Even chicken and ham add significantly to calorie requirements, just 25g of either of these foods amount to over a fifth of a cat’s daily requirements.

Please speak to your vet if you feel your pet may need to lose weight, so many clinical problems can be worsened by obesity. Our surgery runs free nurse weight clinics where we can track your pet’s weight and advise you if needed. If a prescription diet food is appropriate, we are able to offer 25% off bags of Royal Canin weight loss foods until the end of July. This is in addition to the Buy 4, get 1 free offer on Royal Canin weight loss diets until the end of the year.