Has your pet put on a few pounds? Pet obesity is a real problem with dire consequences to the lives of our pets. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reported that 57.6% of cats and 52.6% of dogs in the United States are classified as obese. It is reported that 45% of pet owners identified their pets as “normal weight” when their pets were notably obese. Obesity in our pets can lead to severe, painful and expensive medical conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, skin disorders, loss of kidney function, respiratory disease and other diseases.
So how can you tell if your pet is carrying a few extra pounds?
- Run your hand down your pet’s rib cage. You should be able to easily feel their ribs without pressing in. If you have to apply pressure your pet may be overweight.
- Look at your pet from above and the side. Do they have a trim waistline you can see from all angles? If not, they might be carrying some extra weight.
- Feel your pet’s spine and hips. Their spine and hips should be easy to feel (but harder to see). If you cannot find them, your pet is likely too heavy.
Your veterinarian will use a system looking at your pet’s ribs, hips, abdomen, and waistline to determine if your pet is heavier than they should be.Remember one pound of extra weight is equivalent to fourteen to twenty pounds of extra weight on a person!
But there is good news!
Pet obesity is easy and inexpensive to treat! Your veterinarian is a great resource and can help you help your pet lose weight in a safe and happy way by recommending diet adjustments and/or changes, building a healthy treat list and developing a safe exercise program for your pet. Remember, it is better for your pet’s lifelong health (and your pocketbook) to keep them fit and happy!