"How much should my pet weigh?"
We get asked this question almost daily!
This can be a sensitive subject, but we are here to offer healthy tips, not judgement. ;)
Each pet is unique, and his or her healthy body composition depends on many factors, including: species, breed, gender, age, and activity level.
When assessing a patients' weight, it is important to get a current weight, as well as a weight and feeding history. In other words, how much are you feeding your pet and of what type of food? Is the food appropriate for your pets' age and lifestyle? As with human food, each pet food offers different nutritional values and each manufacturer will offer different feeding guidelines in order to achieve a certain weight. Examine these guidelines on the side of your food bag to see if you are over, or under, feeding your pet.
Next, an ideal Body Condition Score, or BCS, is determined for an individual pet. A veterinarian can asses this best, but, in the simplest terms, we would be able to feel the rib-cage on a pet of healthy weight and see a "waist-line," or a well proportioned lumbar waist. A visible rib-cage typically means a pet is underweight, while attempting to palpate the ribs with no luck signifies a pet is overweight.
When discussing patients who are truly underweight, typically diagnostic tests are recommended. Some systemic illnesses present with weight loss, and we want your critters healthy inside AND out. Speak with one of our veterinarians if you are concerned your pet is loosing unintentional weight.
For those pets that are on the opposite of the BCS spectrum, there are ways we can help to get some weight off!
Did you know that according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention over 50% of dogs and cats are considered obese or overweight?
If your pet is considered overweight, we worry about things like joint pain and mobility issues. We also are concerned about many life-threatening conditions overweight patients may be prone to that can reduce your pet's life expectancy and quality of life.
Getting the weight off can be hard, and we know that. We are here to help! What works for one pet may not necessarily work for another when it comes to weight loss. Believe it or not, we offer "diet" foods for our pets that help promote metabolism and weight loss. When needed, we offer measuring services and can put together a specific "healthy weight protocol" designed just for your pet. With a strict diet and feeding change, and a true commitment to increased activity, weight loss can be achieved and years can be added to your pets' life. We recommend giving food trials at least 3 months, and coming in for regular weight checks are encouraged!
Make it fun and set goals for you, your pet, and your entire family!
Fun and healthy pet activities to incorporate in your every day:
- When the weather allows, get outside! Going for regular walks is a bonding opportunity for you and your pet and a simple way to shed some pounds.
- If your dog plays well with others, dog parks are great places for your dog to release some energy, and thus get some exercise.
- Do you have young children? Playing fetch is great for kids and dogs alike!
- Is your indoor cat lacking enough chance for exercise? Consider investing in toys or feline-friendly activity boards. Some toys make your cat work for the food, how creative is that?! A cheap laser-light can even provide your cat with endless chasing, and you with endless entertainment.
- If your cat is interested (and fully vaccinated and protected from parasites), get a feline harness and see if walks around your home can be a regular thing. You may be surprised!
- Stay positive, and don't give up on your pets' weight loss. Every little bit counts.