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Pet Treats and Weight


How to use healthy treats to avoid the pet “bulge”.

Too many treats can add lots of unnecessary calories to our pet friend’s diets and is one of the biggest contributors to the bulging bellies we are seeing more often in practice. Dog treats or cat treats should be less than 10% of the daily calories our pets consume, however this is a really hard concept for pet owners to understand.

Jack Russell being fed

“Food is love” to many pet owners and they often don’t consider or understand how many calories can be packed into a treat. For example, that piece of toast with butter given to Holly their 7kg Jack Russell Terrier can make up about 30% of her daily energy requirement!

So what can we do?

The best time to discuss obesity and prevention is when you see the pet before they are overweight (for example at their puppy and kitten vaccinations or their 18 month booster). Educating the pet parent about making wise low calorie treat and appropriate food choices before they get into bad habits will likely have the best impact, however any time is a good time (well, maybe not during an emergency or serious illness!) to discuss a pet being overweight.

  • Pet treats should be 10% or less of the pet’s daily energy requirement
  • Educate owners to choose commercial treats that provide the calorie content. There are some great low calorie treats available now.  Also stock some at your practice
  • Use the chart below to show them how many calories are in some commonly used treats
  • Another great tool is the dog/cat treats to human treat equivalents charts which can be a real eye opener for pet parents!


Treat Guidance table

Another great tool is the dog/cat treats to human treat equivalents charts which can be a real eye opener for pet parents!

human treat equivalents charts

Dr Danielle Page, BVSc, Bcom, Hill’s Professional Consulting Veterinarian- pictured with her dog Rosie.

Danielle completed a Bachelor of Commerce from Sydney University in 2003, she decided to pursue a veterinary degree and graduated from Massey University in 2008. She worked as a small animal veterinarian in Canberra, ACT and then Florida, USA for four years. In 2012 she became the Technical Services Veterinarian for Florida for a veterinary nutrition company and then subsequently, Clinical Trials Manager for the USA. In 2014 she moved back to NZ with her family and joined the Hill’s Professional Veterinary Affairs team and is the Hill’s Professional Consulting Vet for NZ.



Dr Danielle Page