Many of us will be counting calories over the next couple of months and perhaps we should do the same for our furry friends.
An increasing number of dogs and cats are becoming overweight. It can be difficult to determine your pets body condition but below are a few questions that may help:
Can I feel my dog or cats ribs? Although you should not be able to see your pets ribs, one should be able feel the ribs under a thin layer of muscle.
Does my pet have a waist? There should be a natural indentation just below the ribcage.
A good chart for determining your pet’s waist. http://purinaveterinarydiets.com/resources/Files/dog_chart.pdf
How much does my pet weigh? Has that weight changed significantly over the past year?
Just like in people, an accurate weight can be a great way to monitor your pets body condition from year to year. Most pets weight much less than an average person and one pound of weight gain in a 15 pound cat or dog is comparable to a 165 pound person gaining 11 pounds. This could significantly impact the overall health of that animal.
Obesity can cause or exacerbate health problems in your pet. Arthritis pain, allergy or other airway disease, dermatologic, and cardiovascular conditions may all be negatively affected by extra pounds.
If it is determined that your pet is overweight, reducing caloric intake through measured meals or a switch to a lighter diet may help. Limiting table scraps and treats can have a tremendous impact on weight control as well. A bite of ham tossed to your anxiously awaiting dog will add up to 25 calories a pop (for a 1/2 ounce serving).
Increasing physical activity is also important. Adding a walk around the block, throwing a ball in the yard or using a laser pointer or other play toys to encourage activity are just a few ways to help your dog or cat stay fit.
Body condition is a great subject to discuss at your pets annual wellness exam.
Enjoy your holidays!!