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Are You Overfeeding Your Pet?

Cats and dogs are getting fatter — and we have no one to blame but ourselves

2. Fend off wolfing down food with stones. Some dogs and cats gobble down their food so quickly, you wonder if their taste buds have time to engage. Wolfing down food can pack on the extra pounds and cause an upset stomach, even vomiting. Slow down their eating by placing two or three washed, smooth stones in their food dish at meal time. They are forced to slow down to eat around these heavy stones.

3. Table the table scraps. Resist those begging eyes and never "treat" your pet to fatty meat scraps, gravy or other unhealthy food from your plate. These items not only pack on the pounds but put your pet at risk for pancreatitis. 

4. Dish up plenty of praise and provide neck-to-tail five-minute therapeutic massages. These options are calorie free and only serve to better connect with your pet.

5. Don't be wowed by brands. Forget thinking about brands and select based on food "formats." Look for commercial pet food that lists a real meat as its first ingredient and is deemed complete and balanced by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

How can you tell if you are making smarter nutritional choices for your pet? Easy. You've found the right food when your pet's coat is huggable and shiny, there's a renewed pep to his step and the size of his poop shrinks. After all, the higher quality the food, the less waste produced.

Be your pet's best healthy ally by not killing him with kindness by overfeeding him. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight and providing him with regular exercise is one of the best gifts you can give.

Dr. Marty Becker, "America's Veterinarian," is the resident veterinarian for Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. His latest book, Your Dog: The Owner's Manual, became available this spring. Find him in the AARPPetPals forum of AARP.org.

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