An estimated 52% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese*. Excessive weight in pets can lead to possible health concerns, such as diabetes and joint problems.
Obesity is a serious condition in pets that can lead to other health problems including diabetes, arthritis, heart, liver, and respiratory problems. Learn how to determine whether or not your pet is overweight or obese and how you can address the problem right away to get your dog on the proper diet, nutrition, and exercise program for a longer, healthier life.
Is your pet overweight?
Weighing your pet at home or at regular veterinary appointments is important to be able to measure whether their caloric intake is ideal or possibly causing excess weight. Your veterinarian will be able to assess if your dog is over the appropriate weight, based on size, age, breed, and other factors.
It is also important to keep an eye on your pets’ weight, especially as he or she ages, to check for abnormalities yourself. Follow this chart to determine if your pet is at her ideal weight, overweight or obese:
|Obese||The waist is barely visible or not visible at all; the abdomen will sag and there will be noticeable heavy fat covering the ribs|
|Overweight||Waist visible, but not prominent; abdominal tuck less evident|
|Ideal||Waist visible behind the ribs; abdomen tucked up|
Keep an eye on your pet’s weight. Is it fluctuating? Is he or she gaining weight rapidly? Has the exercise routine diminished? To determine your pet’s “weight class” at home look down at your pet while he is standing. He should appear to have a waist, just in front of the hips. Looking from the side, the abdomen should appear slightly tucked up. Also, feel for his ribs, ribs should be able to be felt with slight pressure. If you can’t feel the ribs, this generally means a layer of fat is in the way, most likely due to overfeeding. If the ribs are obvious while looking at your pet before feeling, he may not be getting enough calories to sustain proper weight.
Your pet’s attitude can also signify whether he is over, under, or at an ideal weight. As your pet reaches ideal weight he should act more vibrant, active, and playful. Healthy pets are happy pets!
What to do if your pet is overweight
Take a healthy approach to gradual weight loss for your pet. A weight loss program is most effective for pets if you can adjust feeding habits while also introducing increased activity moderately into their regular schedule.
Consult your veterinarian to find out the proper amount to feed your pet to begin a weight loss regimen. Set specific feeding times for your pet; free feeding – food available in his bowl at any time – is a leading cause of obesity in pets. So, divide the food allotment into two or more feedings throughout the day. Minimize treat consumption and reward with goodies in moderation. Instead, try treating your pet with a few pieces of kibble from his daily food allotment to cut down on extra treat calories. Always provide your pet with clean, freshwater throughout the day to keep him hydrated and feeling full between feedings. And exercise! Exercise is important to pets both physically and mentally. Whether exercise means jogging in the park, playing fetch, or practicing tricks, he will feel rewarded while staying healthy.
Keeping pets at a healthy, manageable weight will increase energy levels, improve attitude, and most importantly, lengthen their lives. Prevent illnesses, conditions, and injuries by keeping your pet at his or her ideal weight. Long live our healthy, happy pets!
*Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
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