A steadily growing segment of the pet population in the United States is overweight. Recent studies have shown that dogs fed to maintain an ideal body condition lived on average 1.8 years longer, and were considerably healthier, than dogs allowed to become overweight. Being overweight, puts pets at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and other joint problems. Simply put, helping your pet stay thin will give you more quality years together.
How do I know if my pet is overweight?
Veterinarians use a 9-point scale called a body condition score. Evaluation is made by visual observation and by feeling the pet’s body. A score of 1 is given if the pet is extremely thin. A score of 9 is given to pets that are extremely overweight or obese. As a rule, pets should be maintained at a 4 or 5 on this scale. Unfortunately, many pets in America today are too heavy, and many owners tend to think their pet’s are leaner than they actually are. That’s why it’s important to work with your veterinarian to evaluate and develop a feeding plan for your pet.
Start by figuring out where your dog falls on the 9-point body condition chart. In order to do this, you will want to conduct three checks of your dog:
- Rib Check: Place both of your thumbs on your dog’s backbone and spread both hands across his rib cage. You want to be able to feel his ribs. Actually feeling your dog is important, as the coat of many dogs will make a visual check difficult.
- Profile Check: Examine your dog’s profile – it’s best if you are level with the dog. Look for the abdomen to be tucked up behind the rib cage.
- Overhead Check: Looking at your dog from overhead, see if you can see a waist behind the ribs. Most dogs at a healthy weight should have an hourglass figure.
Cats are most easily evaluated by viewing their profile and from above. Conduct the following check’s on your cat and compare to the examples below.
Profile Check: Examine your cat’s profile – it’s best if you are level with the cat. Look for the abdomen to be tucked up behind the rib cage.
Overhead Check: Looking at your cat from overhead, see if you can see a waist behind the ribs. Most cats at a healthy weight should have an hourglass figure.
If you are concerned about your pet’s body condition, please give us a call. We have worked with many dogs and cats to help them achieve their ideal body condition, allowing them to live happier, longer lives.