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Obesity and the Pet Food Marketing Machine

Obesity and the Pet Food Marketing Machine

We’ve all seen those adorable pet food commercials where a pet comes racing around the corner, and skids to a halt in front of a heaping bowl of food. Emphasis on heaping! If you’ll pardon the obvious pun, this is a huge pet peeve for me. Some advertisements feature toy breed dogs plowing into portions that would gorge a Golden Retriever.  With these types of images bombarding the pet owning public’s senses, it’s little wonder that over 60% of America’s pets are either overweight or obese.

In their zeal not to avoiding becoming victims of marketing, many consumers will take what is normally a wise course of action, and the read the instructions on their pet’s food for feeding suggestions. However, the suggested portions of dog and cat food printed on these bags are often enough to make my jaw hit the floor. Bear in mind that these are only suggestions, and many food companies would rather err on the side of overfeeding, as opposed to underfeeding.  Additionally, pet food companies are for-profit entities. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, no company is going to print a label that basically tells consumers to please use less of their product! Generally speaking, I advise my clients to read the recommended feeding amounts on the package, and reduce that amount by at least 20%.  Your veterinary team can better advise you on the more quality foods the market has to offer, as well as the amounts best suited for your pet’s individual needs.

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