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Keep your pet from gaining pounds during the holidays

Sunday - 11/17/2013, 9:06am  ET

DogEating.jpg
Don't overfeed your dog or your dog could end up with costly health issues. (Thinkstock)

Pets can pack on the pounds, too

WTOP's Kate Ryan reports.

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WASHINGTON - Fat cats and pudgy pooches need homes too, and a local shelter is working to spotlight the need of the animals that offer a lot to love.

Just like people, dogs and cats can pack on the pounds, and in local animal shelters, the fat cats and plump puppies don't always get a second glance, says ChristieLyn Diller, director of marketing and communications for the Washington Humane Society.

Diller says people tend to want little kittens or small dogs, so the big animals just "sit and they wait."

"We have some that have been with us 200 days or more."

From now through Sunday, Nov. 24, the Washington Humane Society is offering a break on big love: you get a discount on dogs over 40 pounds and cats that tip the scales at 10 pounds and above, Diller says.

The adoption fees are reduced to $100 for dogs and $50 for cats that fall in the "big" category.

Diller says it's a chance for the organization to shed some light on the weighty issue of pet obesity at home.

WHS has some healthy tips for healthy pets:

While everyone wants to share the Thanksgiving celebration with his furry family members, overfeeding pets with some human foods can cause serious problems, including obesity.

  • Pets who eat food outside of their normal diet, or large amounts of food, can suffer from serious medical problems, including GI upset with possible vomiting, diarrhea and even pancreatitis.

  • Holiday gatherings provide far too many opportunities for pets to snatch food off of counters or unattended plates. Consider putting your pet in a safe, comfortable place with enrichment to keep them occupied while you are entertaining. This will reduce the stress of having your furry friends under foot and reduce their stress by being around hectic activity and strangers.

  • While small amounts of boneless turkey and unseasoned carrots and green beans can be a nice treat for pets, many foods common in Thanksgiving meals can be toxic to animals, such as onions, garlic, raisins and chocolate.

  • A pet should be fed based on the recommendations of the particular brand and type of food it is receiving, as listed on the label. Remember, if you have an overweight animal, you should feed at the animal's ideal weight, not its current weight. The actual amount of food for the ideal weight will depend, in part, on the individual animal's genetics, activity level and metabolism.

  • An altered animal (spayed or neutered) generally requires about one-quarter less food than a similar, intact animal.

The key to a healthy animal is a good, balanced diet and daily exercise. If you're considering adopting, or already have a pet that is tipping the scale, try these tips to help shed off the extra pounds:

  • Use your dog's food ration as training treats. He'll still get the same calories but will have to work for it.

  • Many pets love a good game or puzzle. Purchase a food toy, fill it with your pet's kibble, and he will exercise his body and mind working for his meal.

  • Cats fill up faster on wet food than dry, making them feel fuller faster. If your cat could stand to lose a bit of weight, try offering at least one meal as wet food, daily.

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @kateryanWTOP, @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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