New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Commentary

Counting Canine Calories in Our Pets

Dogs, like humans, are healthier and happier when they maintain a wholesome diet which focuses on nutritious food and proper caloric intake. We’re all tempted to spoil our canine best friends by indulging them with extra cookies or treats, which is fine if done in appropriate measures. However, we must be both aware and concerned about the major health concerns our beloved pets could face if they become overweight – the same concerns we have with our own selves.

Diabetes, pancreatitis, arthritis and heart disease are just a few of the problems that can be caused by or worsened if a dog is overweight. So how can we maintain a dog’s healthy weight and still give him/her treats they enjoy and deserve?

Think veggies! Carrot niblets, snow peas, celery, red/green pepper pieces are but a few vegetables that are crunchy and enjoyable treats for dogs – not to mention healthy and without the extra calories and fat of traditional dog biscuits. As a matter of fact, my own Bichon Frise, Gracie, enjoys a variety of such vegetables as long as they’re raw and give her that satisfaction of chewing something crunchy. If you’d like to try cooking and adding a little extra something healthy to your pet’s meal, try cooking green beans and mixing a little cooked white rice for gentleness to the stomach – it’s a healthy way to add low-calorie vitamins to your dog’s main meal.

Cooked egg whites are another great protein treat (the yolks are where all the fat is). Cottage cheese and plain yogurt are enjoyed by many dogs as special yummy treats, too!

Being one or two pounds overweight may not sound a lot to us humans. However, for a small dog, one pound could be 10 percent of their entire body weight. That can quickly add up to become a threat to their health.

Getting plenty of daily exercise is also important – even two 15-minute walks per day can make all the difference in the world in maintaining a healthy weight balance for your dog. For a small dog like a Bichon, the same can be obtained by just 10-minutes of active playtime inside the house twice per day if the weather is inclement. And, of course, remembering to add nourishing, wholesome and low-calorie treats to our pet’s diet is crucial. We’ll be rewarded for our efforts by the happy and vibrantly healthy dog which will be our loyal companion for many long years to come.