Obesity in pets is a real threat to their health. Just like us, obesity is on the rise in both our cats and dogs. Did you know that cats have a higher tendency of becoming overweight than dogs? Even though cats seem to eat less than dogs, they tend to get less exercise which is part of the reason they have higher obesity rates.
But what if your pet is not obviously fat? Are they still overweight? How can you tell if they are obese or just have a thick coat? Here are some things for you to look for:
1. Feel for their ribs, backbone and hips:
With a gentle but firm touch, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs and the spaces between them fairly easily. If you can’t find them then your pet may be overweight. Ideally, you should be able to easily feel their ribs, backbones and hipbones. While they should not be prominent, you should be able to feel them when you pet them.
2. Look at their body shape:
Both cats and dogs should have a chest and a waist. It can sometimes be hard to see if your pet is very fluffy, so try checking them at bath time or after a swim, when their fur is a bit flatter. Needless to say, a belly should not be hanging down. Instead, they should have a smooth curved and tucked-in waist line underneath their hind legs. This is called the “abdominal tuck,” where your pet’s underbelly angles upward from their chest to their haunches.
Look down at them as they stand up. They should be straight or only slightly curved in shape towards the tail. There should be no roundness protruding from the sides of their body. Plus, there should not be any fat at the base of the tail. Your pet is likely obese if you they have fatty pads by their tail bone.
3. What are their breathing and grooming habits:
If your pet gets tired out after a short walk or some kitten play, then this could be an indication that they are overweight. Similarly if they can not move to groom themselves as easily as they could before, then this might mean that it’s diet time.
What should I do if I think my pet has a weight problem?
First, contact your vet before you change their diet. Just like humans, they could have metabolic conditions like hypothyroidism or other underlying health issues that may be leading to the weight gain. More than that, your vet will help guide your pet’s new dietary changes to ensure they are still get the proper nutrition while trying to shed some weight.
We all want our pets to live long and healthy lives. Keeping them at a healthy weight is part of that healthy lifestyle. So make sure you keep an eye on your pet’s weight and contact your vet with any concerns.