Over the past decade, the number of overweight cats has increased by 169% and the number of overweight dogs by 158%.
As a result, most pets in the United States, including about 56% of dogs and 60% of cats, are overweight or obese.
“Overweight” dogs weigh 10% to 30% more than their ideal body weight. An “obese” dog’s weight exceeds its ideal weight by more than 30%. The definitions are similar for cats.
The consequences are serious. Obese pets are more likely to have a number of additional health problems, including—
- Respiratory problems
- Cardiovascular problems
- Kidney disease
- Skin infections
- Shorter life expectancy (2.5 years shorter, according to one study)
These adverse health conditions result in a reduced quality of life for you and your pet as well as increased health care costs.
Fortunately, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team can help you help your overweight or obese pet achieve a healthier weight.
Is Your Pet Overweight or Obese?
It sounds like a simple question, but it can be hard for owners to judge their own pets’ weight accurately.
In a study by Purina, when researchers asked owners of 201 healthy adult dogs to score their dogs’ body condition using the Purina Body Condition System as a guide, the owners said 28% of the dogs were overweight. A professional skilled in body condition scoring who evaluated the same dogs found 79% were overweight.
You can use Purina’s system to evaluate your own pet’s body condition before your next appointment at the clinic. To help you get started, the Purina Institute offers simple instructions on making your assessment.
Here’s a brief video for cat owners:
The Purina Institute also provides an illustrated reference sheet to help you assess your cat’s body condition.
Similarly, the Purina Institute offers a video assessment how-to for dog owners.
Here’s a visual reference chart to help you evaluate your dog’s body condition.
If, based on your initial assessment, you think your pet may be overweight, we encourage you to visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s web page titled, “Your pet’s healthy weight.” There you’ll find advice on working with your veterinarian to help your pet achieve a healthy weight.
The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association has published a paper as a downloadable PDF, “Nutritional Management of Canine and Feline Obesity,” that provides a fairly comprehensive overview of key aspects of obesity in dogs and cats. Although the paper is written for veterinarians, the language is not overly technical, and any client whose pet is overweight or obese can benefit from reading it.
You may also want to review the post we published last October in observance of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day.
We’re Ready to Help!
Pet obesity has been called one of the most uncomfortable exam room topics for veterinary professionals, but at Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we feel it’s one of the most important.
Rest assured, if we diagnose your pet as overweight or obese, you have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed, embarrassed or judged. Our primary focus will be not on blame or shame but on collaborating with you to develop a workable plan to address the problem for the greater good of our patient—your beloved pet.
Remember—overweight and obesity are increasingly prevalent problems shared by more than half our patients. We look forward to helping you help your pet achieve a healthier body weight for a longer, happier life!