Photo by Todd HuffmanSpring Break is coming and many of us are concerned about our bathing suit readiness. We are not alone. Our companion animals, particularly dogs, cats and horses, are weathering the same winter storm.

Nutritionists have made it clear that fat is not bad for you. In fact it’s needed for brain functioning. But since it packs double the calories per serving size, portion control is key. Just like our pets, we are not always satisfied by the portions recommended on food labels. But unlike our pets, we have only ourselves to blame.

Pets count on us to dole out the rations. Pets rarely shop, so why are they doing so poorly in the battle of the bulge? According to AVMA, obesity is a major problem for pets and complications resulting from obesity include diabetes, hypertension and joint disease, not to mention a shorter life span.

Most of us have heard about high protein diets commonly known as the Atkins plan (or the currently trendy “Paleo Diet”). Research is out there but results conflict. It turns out protein is great as long as it is of a high quality. Corn and wheat gluten are significant ingredients of pet food to help boost protein content. But meat is a better protein source for obese pets. The trend to feed grain-free foods to cats and dogs can address some of the problems that obese pets face. For horses, high quality fats can balance out low quality grains.