Is Your Dog Overweight?
A New Year’s Resolution for Fido
If you are like millions of Americans, you probably made a New Year’s resolution. Last year over 70% said they would eat healthier or diet, 65% said exercise, and 54% decided to lose weight. Did you ever stop and think, maybe your dog is the one that should be making those resolutions?
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “…nearly 56% of the dogs, and nearly 60% of the cats in America are overweight or obese.” If you think your pet isn’t overweight, you’re not alone. Most owners don’t realize their pets are obese or at an unhealthy weight.
Is My Pet’s Weight That Important?
To put it simply, YES, your pet’s weight is important! Excess weight can lead to, or worsen, many illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, heat stroke, pancreatitis, urethral obstruction (in male cats), reoccurring skin and urinary tract infections, and pain associated with arthritis and other orthopedic conditions. It also increases the probability a pet will suffer a respiratory or heart emergency as a result of pre-existing conditions.
How Can I Tell If My Pet Is Overweight?
Here are a few simple ways to see if your pet is overweight.
- Ribs: If you can’t feel the ribs, you may have an overweight pet. Also check the major bones like shoulders, hips, and spine. If they are hard to locate, your pet probably has too much padding.
- Breathing: Dogs that are overweight or obese will usually have heavier breathing even at rest. After a short walk or minimal excursion, does your pet have a hard time recovering their breath?
- Tail: You should be able to feel the bones at the end.
- Stomach/Chest: An overweight dog will typically have no waist and no distinction between their chest and stomach.
After you’ve done a check of your pet’s body, it may be time to bring them in for an exam by one of our veterinarians. We will do a thorough exam to determine their condition and create a plan for helping them achieve their ideal weight.
How Did My Pet Get Overweight?
The number one cause of weight gain is overfeeding. In addition, many pets don’t get the exercise or playtime they need to burn-off the extra calories needed to maintain an ideal weight. There are some breeds that are prone to weight problems. The list includes; bulldogs, golden retrievers, and cocker spaniels.
What Can I Do?
The first step is to determine if your pet has underlying medical conditions as a result of being overweight. These conditions would need to be addressed first by our doctors as part of a comprehensive plan of action.
Once your pet is under professional medical care, or if they have no underlying medical conditions that need to be addressed, here are ways to help them maintain their ideal weight.
- Reduce Your Pet’s Calorie Intake: Cut back on the number of treats they get each day. This is often the main cause of weight gain in pets. You can also swap high calorie treats for healthier, low calorie treats.
- No Table Scraps: Not only can table scraps add weight but many can be dangerous and cause illnesses such as pancreatitis and intestinal problems.
- Reduce the Amount of Food: Your pet may be getting too much of a good thing. You may need to cut back on the amount of food you are feeding your pet. This is where we can help. Our doctors can provide food options, as part of a diet plan created for overweight pets or for maintaining ideal weight.
- Get Your Pet Moving: Exercise is important for all pets. Start out slow and increase their activity level over time. Take your dog on long walks or play fetch. Cats like to chase a laser pointer or may enjoy a good cat toy. You can also sign them up for Daycare Barks and Recreation. This is our outdoor playtime that helps them get moving. For more information visit our Daycare Barks and Recreation webpage.
This new year make a resolution to help your pet be weight healthy. They’ll be happier and healthier for you support. To start the road to their ideal weight, contact the clinic at
205-967-7383. We can help!
A Passion for Pets
Julie Grimes, DVM