By Leann Soon and Dr. Richard Long

A big yet common problem that many of our pets are facing is being overweight. Many of us don’t realize this, but every little treat our dogs and cats get each day contributes to the extra weight they carry around, which makes playing with us and going for walks very difficult.

With their adorable puppy and kitty eyes begging for a morsel of cheese or a potato, it’s easy to give in, but keep the following morsels of information in mind the next time you reach for your fridge door to appease your pet:

For a 10 kg (22 pound) dogAdult human equivalent
3 slices of salami2 hamburgers
1 grocery store chew stick1 chocolate bar
1 small oatmeal cookie1 hamburger
1 hotdog3 chocolate bars
For a 5 kg (11 pound) cat with quiet lifestyleAdult human equivalent
1 ounce cheddar cheese4 hamburgers
¼ can tuna3 ½ chocolate bars
1 potato chip½ hamburger

Another way of thinking about this is in terms of a pet’s Resting Energy Requirements (RER) and Daily Energy Requirements (DER). Both are measured in Kcal/day and while they vary with your pet’s body weight, life cycle stage, whether its spayed or neutered, activity level and other factors, your vet can calculate these for you to give you a better idea of your pet’s optimal food (and treat) intake. 

For example, the average 10 kg spayed or neutered adult dog who lives a fairly quiet lifestyle has a DER of about 400 calories. If each salami has about 60 calories, this dog would only be able to have 6 pieces of salami a day and nothing else to remain healthy… imagine the grief you would get over those empty food bowls because of a few treats! It’s really important to keep in mind that the nutritional impact of these treats is extremely high in terms of your pet’s daily energy intake. 

While rewarding pets is a great way to train, reinforce good behaviour and make your pet happy for a bit of time, you will both be happier and healthier in the long run if you exercise a little restraint (no pun intended).