Warning Signs Your Pet is Overweight
Have you noticed your fur baby looking a little chunkier than usual? You aren’t alone. Excess weight isn’t something exclusive to humans, our pets can suffer from it, as well. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55.8% of dogs and 59.5% of cats in the United States are obese. While a little extra pudge can be cute, it can also lead to numerous health concerns including diabetes, heart problems, and arthritis. Don’t know where to start or what to look for? That’s okay. We’ve compiled a list of signs to examine and determine if your pet is overweight and how to move towards a healthier lifestyle for your fur baby.
Health Effects of Obesity
- Skin Problems
- Heart Problems
- Joint Problems
- Kidney Disease
- Liver Problems
- High Blood Pressure
- Mobility Issues
- Breathing Problems
- Certain Cancers
- Back Issues
- Orthopedic Problems
Check Their Body Shape
One of the easiest ways to determine if your pet if overweight is by looking at them from above. If you notice that their body is more round without a defined waist, then it is very likely that your fur baby is overweight. However, if you notice a defined waist with a straight build on the sides, then they are probably a healthy weight.
You Should Be Able to Feel Your Pet’s Ribs
Ribs are often a good indicator of health issues. If your pet’s ribs aren’t prominent and you can feel them without too much pressing, then your pet is a healthy weight. If it’s difficult to see or feel your pet’s ribs due to excess fat, then your fur baby is most likely overweight.
Check Your Pet From the Side
When viewing your pet from the side, you’re looking for a waist and stomach that is slightly raised. A stomach that hangs or a sagging waist are clear indicators that your pet is obese. Your dog’s abdomen should not be the same level as the chest, and it should be tucked up. For cats, the chest and abdomen are similar levels with only a slight tuck at the abdomen.
Other Things to Look For
Obviously, excess fat deposits are a tell-tale sign of obesity in dogs and cats. Fat pads in dogs can be found on their hips and in between their legs. All cats have a primordial pouch that hangs in the stomach region, but that doesn’t mean that your cat is overweight. On the contrary, a swinging primordial pouch denotes a healthy weight, while a taut, hard pouch indicates obesity.
A change in grooming habits can also help determine your pet’s obesity. If you notice greasy fur, flaky skin, or mats, this is a good indication that your pet is overweight. Simply put, their excess fat is making it more difficult for your pet to properly groom themselves.
Consider Their Behavior
Overweight pets are typically inactive and uninterested in vigorous activity. Maybe your fur baby looks a healthy weight but they have difficulty breathing, trouble walking, or less stamina. These are all signs of weight gain or obesity. Though having a pet that’s a couch potato can make for the perfect cuddle buddy, it is detrimental to their overall health and well-being.
Visit the Vet and Weigh Your Pet
The best way to determine if your fur baby is a healthy weight is by visiting your veterinarian. Your vet will take into account your pet’s size, breed, and any pre-existing health conditions. Healthy weight will look different for each breed. While visiting your vet, this is an excellent time to discuss weight-loss plans, diet, and physical and mental activities should your fur baby need a little health boost. We all experience weight fluctuation – it isn’t unusual or the end of the world. The important thing is to take a proactive approach when necessary.
What You Can Do
If your vet has determined that your fur baby is overweight, do not fret. The main things to focus on are reducing your pet’s calorie intake and increasing their exercise level. Treats and cookies are high in calories. Keep treats to a minimum, or if possible, eliminate them completely. Vegetables like celery, green beans, carrots, broccoli, or cucumbers are good treat alternative for dogs. Freeze-dried poultry or boiled chicken breast are wonderful treat alternative for felines.
Not every pet is an athlete, so it’s important to take your pet’s personality and general stamina into account when it comes to exercise. With most dogs, a 10-15 minute daily walk is an excellent source of encouragement. Gradually increase the amount of time and briskness of walks to up to two hours. Doggy daycamp is also a good source of fitness and socialization for your pup. Much like dogs, cats enjoy playtime with you! Laser pointers or fishing/string toys are a good way to boost your cat’s activity level. Cat scratchers have also been known to increase activity level. Remember to start small with any activity or diet changes. Gradual changes will be less daunting, and more helpful to you and your pet. As always, remember to pack your patience and consult your veterinarian.