Diet. It’s a word humans don’t like, and I’m afraid pets don’t like it either. But if your ball of fur has become a couch potato, it’s time to use the “d” word.

Some animals gain weight for the same reasons we do: They over-eat and don’t exercise. Some breeds are more prone to become overweight, and big-boned breeds of any size may conceal extra pounds.

Spaying or neutering tends to calm an animal, but it’s not the reason a pet gains weight. With less energy output, an animal will put on pounds if its calorie intake isn’t adjusted accordingly.

Given the opportunity, dogs and cats will over-eat. They do so because of their owners: After all, who opens the refrigerator or cupboard?

Feeding indicates an owner’s attention and affection. Eating wins approval, and most often this translates to more snacks and treats.

“I can’t stand to see those sad eyes looking at me while I eat,” many people say, or “his feelings would be hurt if he didn’t have a snack.”

The owner determines a pet’s menu, so the owner is responsible for ensuring a pet maintains proper weight. Obese animals are shapeless and have no waist-line definition.

When you decide that your pet’s a little chunky, visit the vet to determine if the problem is overeating or a medical condition.

High-quality, low-fat pet food products are available, and your vet can provide the guidance necessary to shed those pounds.

And don’t forget: Exercise is a good New Year’s resolution for both man and beast.

Safety First

After buckling yourself in with a car safety belt, you can provide the same peace of mind for your pet. A seat belt harness allows your pet to ride in safety, especially if you must brake suddenly.

Contact your local pet supply store for more information.

Have-A-Heart Traps Available

Do you have stray cats and cats and kittens and kittens in your backyard or neighborhood? Have-A-Heart traps are available on loan from the SPCA for a $25 deposit and $10 rental for five days.

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