Obesity in our pets
It's 2017, and what better way to bring in the new year than with a pet who is healthy and happy! Many of us have made our New Year's resolutions to exercise and eat healthy, so why not add an extra one by helping our four-legged loved ones lose some extra poundage?
Obesity is a common condition we see here at Animal Hospital. What many pet owners don't know is that the “few treats” per day or the table scraps you give your pet can really add up, contributing to obesity and affecting their health. If we tell you your pet is overweight, we promise we’re not trying to place blame—we simply want what's best for your pet!
How to tell if your pet is overweight
When your pet comes in for a physical exam, one of the factors we assess is their weight and their body condition. Body condition refers to where they are on a scale, from emaciated to normal to obese. We use a scale of 1-9, with normal weight being a 4 or 5 out of 9.
When you look at your dog, assess them from the top and from the side. From the top, look for a “waist” to tuck in behind the ribs, and from the side, the belly should tuck up. If you gently press on your dog over the ribs and shoulders, there shouldn’t be a thick layer of fat that you can feel under the skin. If you can feel skin, maybe a thin layer of fat, and then the ribs, that’s perfect. If you can see ribs and hip bones sticking out, your pet may underweight, though the start of the rib outlines may be just visible in short-haired dogs, especially the back ribs by the belly.
Mamba, Nicole’s German Shepherd, is modeling an appropriate body condition (5/9 on the body condition scale) in these photos. You can see some muscle definition, and her waist tucks in nicely.
For cats, they like to accumulate fat in their belly and the fat pad that hangs under their belly. Similar to a dog, there should be a straight line or a waist apparent if you look from the top, but from the side the skin hanging down will hide their belly. As far as weight, cats are much less variable than dogs, so we can give general guidelines. Your average house cat will likely be between 9 and 12 pounds, so if your cat is significantly over or under that range, ask us if they are too thin or overweight.
See the “before” and “after” photos below of Iris, Dr. Stambaugh’s cat—she went from 19 pounds to 11 pounds, and you can see how much her belly shrank!
Tips for achieving (and maintaining!) a healthy weight:
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