“He’s just stout”, “that’s her build”, and “he never misses a meal” are phrases heard in my veterinary clinic daily. Pet obesity is a common disease amongst our canine and feline companions and has serious long-term health consequences for our pets. The most common hurdle I see for my patients is helping their families recognize and gauge pet obesity in their four-legged family members. Fun fact: 95% of pet owners with overweight pets classify their pet as a normal weight.
In the veterinary profession, we use a system that gives each pet a Body Condition Score (BCS) to help us measure the proper amount of weight on each, individual animal. Cats and dogs come in different shapes and sizes and, just like people, no one weight fits all, so we use a BCS to help each patient. The BCS system is simple and something you can do at home to check your pet’s weight.
- Look at your pet’s silhouette from above and the side. Your pet should have some degree of a “waistline”. Pets with additional weight on them tend to become “barrel” or “sausage” shaped and lose that defined waist.
- Feel your pet’s ribs. You should be able to easily feel each rib, but not see then. If you have to push to find ribs, your pet is likely carrying a few extra pounds.
- Feel for your pet’s hips. You should be able to feel your pet’s hipbones, similar to being able to feel their ribs. If you have to work hard to find them your pet might be overweight.
- This last bullet is not part of the BCS system but be honest about your findings. As pet lovers, we have a tendency to dismiss what is what in front of us when it comes to pet obesity.
Check in with your veterinarian concerning your pet’s weight and check in for the next two weeks for discussion on the effects of pet obesity on their health and how to change that in fun and rewarding ways!