How to Feed Pets Sensible Snacks – NBC 6 South Florida
For many of us, enjoying the holidays means indulging in rich, calorically dense treats. And as the holidays are a season of giving, it makes sense that we would indulge our pets as well. As a result, our pets — like their human counterparts — often begin the new year with a post-holiday paunch.
Whenever I suggest a pet lose weight, a common objection is often, “But what about her treats?”
When it comes to training and behavior modification, I’m a big fan of food rewards. We use them in our clinic to teach anxious pets to associate us with more than just procedures.
When used mindfully, and in tiny portions, food rewards are a godsend. It’s the size, frequency and pointlessness of treats that contribute to America’s pet obesity problem.
Many pet owners fall into the habit of mindlessly doling out commercial pet treats. Adding to the problem is the fact that pet food manufacturers are not required to list nutritional information and calorie contents on their products — and very few do so voluntarily.
Our dachshund Zohan requires roughly 350 calories per day. So a single, 17-calorie commercial dog treat provides him with just under 5% of his caloric needs. And the 45-calorie treats he really likes account for nearly 13% of his body’s needs.
Those numbers might not sound terrible, but many of my patients are about his size, and eating several such treats every day.
Dr. Ernie Ward is the founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and author of the book “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan To Save Their Lives.”
In his book, Dr. Ward reveals the calorie content of some of the most popular commercial dog treats and details what a human would need to eat in order to achieve the caloric equivalent.
Here are just a few of Dr. Ward’s findings:
For a 10-pound dog, a single, best-selling bone-shaped treat is the caloric equivalent of a human eating two chocolate-iced glazed doughnuts. One chewy, bacon-shaped treat equals a human eating a popular fast-food cheeseburger.
For a 20-pound dog, one popular dental health chew treat is equivalent to us drinking three 16-ounce, fast-food chocolate milkshakes. Another “light” variety of dental health treat equals us eating a fast-food hot fudge sundae.
For a 40-pound dog, one peanut butter and apple flavored treat is the equivalent of a large order of fast-food french fries for a human.
For a 60-pound dog, one large “wholesome” treat is like us eating four fast-food fried chicken breasts.
Yikes! Perhaps by now, you’re thinking the solution to snacking sensibly is to substitute “people food” for commercial pet treats. HIll’s Pet Nutrition collected some interesting data as well. Let’s see what they discovered about sharing our food with our cats:
For a 10-pound cat, a single potato chip is the caloric equivalent of half of a hamburger for us. And seriously, who eats just one potato chip? My generation was taught that a saucer of milk (8 ounces) was the ultimate way to show Kitty how much she was loved. This is the caloric equivalent of a human eating FIVE king-sized milk chocolate bars!
Ready for a few more fun facts from Dr. Ward?
For a 40-pound dog, just half of a beef hot dog is equal to us eating an 8-ounce T-bone steak as a snack.
For an 80-pound dog, a scrambled, Grade A large egg is the caloric equivalent of a slice of French toast with butter for us.
Let’s face it: most of the foods we eat are far more calorically dense than we realize. When we factor in our pets’ vastly different nutritional needs and combine it with their natural instinct to preserve energy, it’s easy to see how those empty calories become problematic.
That being said, I am routinely reminded that to pet parents, treating is important. So let’s talk about how to give treats mindfully.
There are many situations in which treats can be your friend. Small food rewards are great motivational tools for teaching new behaviors. Such behaviors can alleviate one of the most common causes of begging and overeating: boredom.
If the behaviors you teach also burn calories, even better. We use treats to teach Zohan how to perform tricks and track scents. Each treat, however, is about the size of a pencil eraser. Crunchy treats are placed in sealed bags and mercilessly crushed into tiny pieces.
The emphasis is not on the treat itself, but rather on the treat event. Accompany each food reward with lots of praise. By doing so, you can cut back on the number of rewards given, until your praise is the only reward your pet seeks.
While treats are allowed at Casa Kupkee, the caveat is that they must be earned. This might mean running through a repertoire of learned behaviors or holding still for a nail trim or an ear cleaning. Zohan never gets treats by demanding them, and if you are a new pet owner, my best advice is to nip this behavior in the bud. It gets annoying quickly, and it is simply too tempting to toss pets a high-calorie treat just to shut them up. This rewards the behavior, and a rewarded behavior is a repeated behavior. Don’t give it a chance to take root. It nearly always leads to frazzled owners and overweight pets.
If “people food” is your treat of choice, there are plenty of healthy options.
With some exceptions, small pieces of fruit can be safely enjoyed by our pets. Never give grapes or raisins, or anything containing pits or seeds. That said, the flesh from these fruits is fine. Apples, bananas, blueberries and pineapple chunks seem to be popular with pets. Again, remember to keep the portions small.
Unseasoned vegetables, either cooked or raw, can be given as well. Never give veggies that have been flavored with butter, and avoid anything in the allium family. This includes, but is not limited to, garlic, onions, chives, scallions, and leeks. Remember, some of Miami’s most popular go-to seasonings, sofrito and mojo, are loaded with onions and garlic, so do not give your pet anything flavored with these local favorites.
If only a “cookie” will do, try substituting plain rice cakes. Avoid sweetened, salted, or flavored varieties. An entire rice cake contains about ten calories, and only a tiny morsel is needed. They are always in season and cheaper than dirt. A client recently quipped that this is because dirt is exactly what they taste like! Fair enough, but more often than not, our pets don’t care. Why? Remember the mantra: It’s not the treat, it’s the treat event.
Dr. Kupkee is the lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic.
The 5 Best Lifestyle Habits That Will Keep You Feeling Young, Science Says — Eat This Not That – Eat This, Not That
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Some say age is a mindset, but it’s also a lifestyle. The decisions we make each and every day can determine and sway just how much the hands of time hold over us. By getting into the right lifestyle habits, you’re going to look and feel younger, regardless of the decade you were born.
Consider this study, published in the International Journal of Aging Research. Scientists report most modern, older adults feel decades younger on the inside. Similarly, this survey of 2,000 adults, ages 65 and above, reports half of them feel younger than 50 years old.
So, what exactly is their secret? It may have something to do with more seniors than ever exercise on the regular. This poll indicates today’s older adults (ages 50+) spend more time physically active than earlier generations. Moreover, research recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research even concludes adults over the age of 65 have been working out more than any other age group during the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, if you’re on the lookout for new ways to rejuvenate your mind and body, regular exercise should be the first item on your list. More specifically, resistance training is an incredible ally in the fight against aging. According to Emily Servante, senior CPT at Ultimate Performance, a regular regimen of weight lifting and resistance exercises is key to graceful aging for both men and women.
“Can weight training ‘make you younger?’ The plain answer is no, but it can make you feel a whole lot younger, more mobile, and more energetic. Introducing regular resistance training into your routine can massively improve hormonal and inflammatory issues in older people, which is key in preserving and increasing muscle mass, slowing down sarcopenia (muscle wasting), and increasing fat loss,” Servante explains.
You may be wondering what other lifestyle changes you can adopt to fend off the effects of aging and feel younger. If so, you’re in luck! Read on to learn about the best lifestyle habits that will keep you feeling young, according to science. And for more, check out If You Think This About Yourself, You’ll Live Longer, Says New Study
Sleeping well is essential, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get some shuteye on restless nights. Between work, play, and a 24/7 news cycle, it’s very easy in these modern times to push sleep aside as an afterthought. If you want to look and feel younger, though, proper sleep is non-negotiable.
“Good quality rest allows your body to rest and repair itself — including your skin, for those who want to look younger to match their energy — and is necessary for the health and functioning of every single bodily process. Waking up with youthful energy often rests on how deeply you commit to a healthy sleep routine,” explains CSSC Stephen Light of Nolah Mattress.
It’s also important to mention that it’s possible to get too much sleep. Recent research published in BRAIN reports that habitually sleeping for less than 4.5 hours or over 6.5 hours on a nightly basis is linked with greater cognitive decline among older individuals. So just remember to set an alarm!
As far as how to more easily attain a satisfying night’s rest, Light suggests sculpting a personalized bedtime routine to follow night in and night out. “One of the most important things is building a soothing sleep ritual, which could look like playing light music, having herbal tea, or taking a bath — and try to stick to a consistent bedtime,” he recommends.
Related: Avoid These Sleep Positions for Better Z’s, Say Experts
The power of the mind shouldn’t be underestimated, and fascinating recent research published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B tells us that simply being pessimistic about growing old can lead to a faster deterioration in both overall health and wellbeing. In other words, if you’re constantly ruminating about how awful growing old is going to be, [you] may very well prove yourself right. “It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says lead study author Dakota Witzel, a doctoral candidate at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Over 100 Oregon locals between ages 52 and 88 took part in this study. It’s worth noting that subjects with worse self-perceptions of aging were much more vulnerable to stressors, reporting more physical health symptoms on particularly stressful days.
“These things are truly important for our health and well-being, not only long-term, but in our day-to-day life,” Witzel adds. “The likelihood of reporting these physical health symptoms is significantly decreased, on average, when you have better self-perceptions of aging.”
This survey finds the key to a long, happy, youthful life is finding the time for some childlike, carefree activities, no matter your age. What’s more carefree than taking a vacation? When we travel someplace special, we broaden our horizons, let go of long-lingering stress, and make lifelong memories and maybe even new friendships.
“I believe that travel is one of the things that keeps us young. Exploring the world provides us with a sense of wonder and makes us feel young. It helps keep our sense of curiosity young,” states Lee Jason Friend, Holistic Services Coordinator at The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center.
Furthermore, this study released in Tourism Analysis finds people who travel more often are happier in general, and this project released in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging concludes travelers tend to live longer in general. Why? Vacations relieve stress, and it’s well-documented that excessive stress levels will accelerate the aging process.
“Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays,” says Professor Timo Strandberg of the University of Helsinki, Finland. “Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.”
Related: Meditating Can Impact Your Immune System In This Incredible Way, New Study Says
We touched on the importance of exercise earlier, but it’s equally as essential to make sure you’re working out your brain, too.
“Your brain ages just like the rest of your body as part of the natural aging process. It shrinks, slows down, and becomes less adaptable to change. Therefore, to stay healthy, it’s critical to stretch your brain as well your heart, legs, and other muscles,” explains Karalyn Cass, a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) coach and program coordinator with First Mile Care.
Flexing your neurological muscles doesn’t have to be a chore. This study published in the scientific journal Neurology discovered that keeping your brain active — for example, playing more mentally stimulating activities like board games, card games, and puzzles — goes a long way toward preserving the mind’s gray matter and preventing dementia.
Another research initiative released in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B came to similar conclusions. Study authors report that people who routinely play non-digital games throughout their lives show stronger memory and thinking skills by the time they reach their 70s.
Adult life can be quite hectic. In between navigating the day’s daily chores and obligations, it’s easy to start feeling like your hand is barely on the steering wheel of your own life. Interestingly, this study published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B reports that when older adults feel totally in control of their lives, they also feel younger.
The next afternoon, you find yourself running around and getting things done for your family or job, take some time and do something just for you. Even if it’s as simple as taking 15 minutes to read some of your book, stretch it out with yoga, or go for a relaxing walk around your favorite local neighborhood.
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Be good to yourself—and your heart!
These habits can help slow down aging.
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