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Monday, April 11, 2011

Bigger isn’t always better: study finds pudgier pooches, fatter cats.

April 5, 2011

Pet Sitters International “weighs in” with six important nutrients for optimal pet health

More than half of all dogs and cats living as pets in the United States are overweight or obese according to a recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).

The APOP also reports that this trend has increased steadily since the study began in 2007, despite all of the pet-food information readily available to pet owners.

Cheryl Wilson, a Pet Sitters International member and owner of T.L.K. Professional Pet Care Service in Watertown, Mass., finds that over-feeding is one of the most common problems she encounters.

“I try to offer my clients advice on more appropriate amounts to feed their pets and remind them of the health risks that come with pet obesity,” Wilson said.

Overfeeding isn’t the only action that leads to overweight pets. The type of food also matters. Ellen Price, academic manager for PSI, said that the ingredients in the pet food owners choose to feed their pets are equally important.

“Food that is not nutritionally sound can result in a multitude of health problems, including obesity” Price said. “Ensuring that pets get the correct quantity of nutrients and an appropriate amount of water contributes to their overall health, well being and longevity.”

According to information in the Association’s Certification Program tailored exclusively for professional pet sitters, there are six key essential nutrients for dogs and cats:

Proteins – Provide a pet with the amino acids to build cells and tissue. Protein is an energy source and proteins are important in the makeup of antibodies, hormones and blood.

Vitamins – Both cats and dogs need vitamins to sustain good health. Vitamins help control physiological functions and regulate chemical reactions in a pet’s body.

Minerals – Help maintain a pet’s electrolyte and fluid balance, tissue structure, formation of teeth, cells and growth of bones.

Fats – Dietary fat is a good source of energy for dogs and cats. It helps them absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Carbohydrates – One of the three nutrients in a pet’s diet that supply energy, as well as fiber that aids in digestion.

Water – Water is essential for life. The amount of water an animal needs depends upon the pet’s activity, the type of food the pet eats, the environmental temperature and the pet’s health. Animals that eat dry food need more water than those that eat wet food.

Whether you’ve opted for an organic, raw food, homemade or commercial pet diet, make certain it’s nutritionally sound. This, in combination with exercise, will help keep pets at a healthy weight.

For more information about PSI or to locate a professional pet sitter in your area, please visit

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