Many times, we don’t notice that our pets have gradually put on some extra weight until they start slowing down. More often than not, it is someone else who notices that weight gain such as the groomer, a friend, or the vet before we notice it ourselves. That extra weight your pet may be carrying around can cause lasting damage to their internal organs, bones, and joints…some that can never be corrected even with a change in their diet and exercise.
So, how do you check your own pet? Have them to stand, then feel around their midsection – their ribs and spine should be easy to feel. They should also have a definitive waist line – a nice hourglass figure! If you can’t feel the ribs and if there is no tucked in waistline – more like a tube than a hourglass, then they are overweight.
Clients often ask us how much their pet should weigh, but it is very difficult to determine an exact number. We go by a body conditioning score, called a BCS, to determine if they are overweight or not. The BCS is a scale that ranges from 1 to 9 with 1/9 being emaciated, 5/9 being a normal a weight and 9/9 being obese. A BCS scale:
A recent study found that more than 45% of the dogs and 58% of the cats are overweight. Some of the problems that can occur due to excess weight are:
-shortened life span
-exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
-high blood pressure
-increased surgical risk/anesthesia risk
-decreased immune system function
-increased risk of developing tumors
When we share food with our pets we feel as if it is a loving gesture, but the most loving thing that we can do for an overweight pet is to put it on a diet. This is the only way to ensure that they will have the best chance for a life that is full of activity and good health. There are a lot of loving gestures that we can provide our pets without contributing to their weight gain.
There are some medical conditions that can result in your pet being overweight. So, if your pet is overweight, make an appointment for us to check them out. If we don’t find any medical problems that result in them being overweight we can develop a diet plan and, if they are able, an exercise regimen that is specifically designed to benefit them based on their age, weight, breed, nutritional needs, and physical limitations.
A pet that is of a healthy weight is happier, more active, and will have longer lifespan. And a longer lifespan means more time they can spend with you, the people they love.