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7 Diet Tips to Fight Pet Obesity

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A new study found that a whopping 54 percent of America's pets are overweight or obese. That percentage translates into some pretty scary numbers: 88.4 million cats and dogs need to get healthy -- stat. 
Even more disconcerting than the numbers themselves, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), is the fact that pet owners don't recognize these serious weight issues. Fifteen percent of cat owners and 22 percent of dog owners said their plump pets were "normal weight." APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward explained, "In simplest terms, we've made fat pets the new normal."
Despite the findings, the survey also noted that 93 percent of pet owners said they realize animal obesity is a problem. So what can they do to help?
Tips for Doggie Dieters
Ward offers the following dieting tips for dogs:
  • Don't use self-feeders, which he describes as candy machines for fat dogs.
  • Pet your dog when he begs for food. Ward says many dogs really want attention, so "flip the equation.''
  • Feed the dog small meals often. Divide the daily food servings into small portions.
  • If the dog is begging for food, take him for a walk as a distraction.
  • If the dog begs, just give him a few kibbles in his bowl, like 10 or 15 rather than a handful.
  • Dogs like a crunchy treat. So how about skipping anything fatty and switching to baby carrots, broccoli, celery, or asparagus?
  • Make sure the bowl is filled with water. Fresh water may hit the spot.
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