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According to recent veterinary reports, 25 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight. That pretty much mirrors statistics on U.S. adults; as of 2006, more than 30 percent of us were overweight. So we are indulging our dogs, as we indulge ourselves, recklessly and with abandon.

And just like Nabisco® has come out with 100-calorie packs of Oreos® to assuage our guilt, Del Monte® is now marketing 50-calorie packs of Pup-Peroni®. Nabisco was able to get the taste of the genuine Oreo cookies (not the Double Stuff, mind you) into at least three new versions of the 100-calorie packs: Oreo Candy Bites, Oreo Thin Crisps, and Oreo Chewy Granola Bars. And, one assumes, the taste of beef Pup-Peroni is similar in its 50-Calorie Pack.

Oreos and Pup-Peroni have something else in common; they are JUNK FOODS!

Junk foods have more "empty calories" than nutritional calories. They tend to be high in sugars, fats, sodium, artificial food flavoring, coloring, and preservatives. Nevertheless, they are tasty; that's why we binge on them. If your dog is overweight and you've been treating him to Pup-Peroni, it's time to remove them from his diet, not substitute Pup-Peroni lite.

The standard Pup-Peroni at least offers beef as its primary ingredient by weight. In the low calorie version, meat by-product is the primary ingredient by weight and beef is the sixth, just before the food flavorings, colorings, preservatives, and emulsifiers. While Del Monte claims that Pup-Peroni 50 Calorie Pack contains "just the right amount of the fresh, 90% lean beef your dog loves," it does not mean that the content is 90 percent beef.... hardly! And how is "just the right amount" determined?

Here are the contents of Pup-Peroni, as listed on the package:

Meat By-Products, Soy Grits, Sugar, Liver, Beef, Propylene Glycol, Salt, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Natural Smoke Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (Used as a Preservative), Sodium Nitrite (For Color Retention), Red 40, BHA (Used as a Preservative), Onion Extract.

There are very broad U.S. government definitions of "meat by-products." They can include, and often do, any portion of any mammal including eyes, bones, head, digestive systems, and even a certain proportion of feathers and hairs. As for Pup Peroni containing liver and beef, these ingredients can be coincidental to the meat by-products contained in the product. The high protein content claimed by Pup Peroni is more likely to come from the soy grits.

Just as worrisome as the meat by-products is the sugar content in the Pup-Peroni 50-Calorie Packs. Sugar is listed by Pup-Peroni as the third ingredient by weight. Sugar is never recommended for dogs. Just like in humans, sugar causes spikes and dips in blood sugar, which can lead to diabetes in dogs, a condition that requires considerable treatment and time and attention by you, and one which will likely shorten your dog's life. If your dog is overweight, it's reason enough to have his blood sugar tested to watch for diabetic tendencies.

As in human weight loss, calories play a very small part in a dog's weight loss. More important is her balance of proteins and carbohydrates and how she utilizes her calories by exercising. Portion control is important, but junk food is not filling, which is another reason we binge on them.

Healthy and filling snacks for dogs include roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, carrots, green beans, and other veggies. They can be roasted whole, or sliced and roasted to give your pup something to crunch on. If you want to purchase pre-packaged healthy treats, there are many online sources for naturally delicious pet products that are very reasonably priced. To get you started, the selection and prices are good at and

Also, if you would like to investigate natural diets for dogs, this Out Of The Earth page gives you some ideas for foods you can make yourself.

Resources: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Center For Science In The Public Interest. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Wikipedia


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