Golden Retrieving FoodAmericans have come to view pudgy pets as cute and funny. The reality is, though, that pets who are overweight are unhealthy. Extra fat carries health risks for animals as well humans. Recognizing when a beloved pet is overweight and understanding the seriousness of the problem is a vital part of responsible pet ownership.

How to Tell if a Pet is Overweight

The majority of cats and dogs in the United States are considered overweight or obese. Not every pet has the same ideal weight, however, so it is important to understand how to determine if your pet is carrying some extra pounds.

A quick assessment can tell you a lot about your pet’s weight status. Step back and take an objective look. A pet that is at a healthy body weight should:

  • Have a discernable waist from above
  • Have ribs that are easy to feel
  • Have a tucked up abdomen
  • Body condition scoring can be helpful as well. This scale uses numbers to describe how a pet is carrying his or her weight. A lower number indicates an underweight pet while a higher number is used to describe obesity. Refer to a body condition scoring chart specific to dogs or cats to determine your pet’s score.

    The Dangers of Pet Obesity

    If you have an overweight pet, it is very important to recognize that this is a serious problem. Just ignoring the issue can be downright dangerous. On average, overweight pets live about 2 years less than pets who are at a healthy weight. This is because obese animals are at increased risk for many health problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Rupture of the cruciate ligament in the knee
  • Keeping your pet at an ideal body condition, you can not only increase the length of his or her life, but also make sure that those extra years are enjoyable. And that’s something all pet parents want for their fuzzy family!

    What To Do if Your Pet is Overweight

    If your pet is overweight, it is not too late. By taking an active role in managing your pet’s weight, you can still help.

    A pet’s weight is determined by two major factors: calories consumed and calories exerted. Just as with people, diet and exercise are vital to health.

    Start by thinking of ways you can increase your pet’s physical activity level. Keep in mind your pet’s individual needs and abilities. A 12 year old lab with arthritis is not going to be able to engage in the same activities as a 2 year old Boxer with no health issues. You may have to get creative! There are all sorts of ideas as to how to encourage your pet to exercise on the internet.

    We can help you to determine how many calories your pet should be consuming in a day and selecting a good diet for his or her needs. Pet nutrition is an important part of keeping your pet healthy.

    It is not cute or funny to have an overweight pet. Helping keep your pet at an ideal body weight is just as important as taking him in for his checkups or providing fresh, clean water. If you are having trouble determining if your pet is carrying extra weight, or if you are struggling with trying to help your pooch or kitty shed those pounds, don’t hesitate to ask. Your pet’s health is our priority, and we are always happy to help.