How to Manage Your Pet’s Weight

How to Manage Your Pet's Weight

Pet obesity is one of the most common health issues seen by veterinarians. Obesity is more than just a cosmetic problem, as overweight pets are at a higher risk of disease and injury.

Managing your pet’s weight is a crucial part of maintaining a better quality of life and long life expectancy. Fortunately, with a little dedication, managing your dog or cat’s weight isn’t difficult.

How to Tell if Your Pet’s Weight is Healthy

A healthy weight is more than just a number on the scale. Even two pets of the same breed may be healthiest at different weights, so it’s important to consider your pet’s body composition rather than how much he or she weighs.

Take a look at your pet from above. He or she should have a visible waist behind the ribs. When viewed from the side, your pet’s waist should tuck up behind the ribs. For most breeds, if your cat or dog does not have a defined waist, it’s a sign of being overweight.

To further determine if your pet is at a healthy weight, try feeling the ribs. The ribs should have a slight layer of fat over them and be easily felt with a little pressure. If you cannot feel the ribs at all or need to use significant pressure to feel them, your pet needs to lose a little weight.

overweight dog laying in the grass

You can repeat this process on other parts of your pet’s body such as the spine and hips. As with the ribs, you should be able to feel the bones through a slight layer of fat. If the bones cannot be felt, your pet is overweight. If the bones are prominent with little fat cover, your pet is too thin.

However, it’s important to note that some breeds may have more prominent hip and spine bones than others. Sighthounds, for example, have a different body type than most breeds of dog and may show more bone while still being at a healthy weight.

Additionally, some breeds, like Labrador Retrievers, may not show the same waist tuck from the side as a Greyhound might. This does not mean that the dog is overweight, but you will need to use other methods, such as feeling the ribs, to determine the dog’s condition.

If you are not sure whether your pet is at a healthy weight, be sure to ask your veterinarian. Your vet will also be able to make specific recommendations on maintaining a healthy weight based on your pet’s current condition.



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