Have you ever seen a furry end table in Kenosha, WI? I’m talking about a dog or cat that is so fat that its back is flat. You really could set a coffee cup on their back and have no fear that it would fall off…at least if they didn’t walk. And if we are really honest, what they do is not considered walking, but waddling.
As a veterinarian, I have. I once saw a 29.6-pound cat. I’ve seen dogs that are 120 pounds but really should have weighed 75 pounds.
I used to laugh at it, but that wasn’t right (now, for those of you who know me, I was the child laughing at the nun after she got hit in the head with a Frisbee…maybe it’s inappropriate laughter). Then, I used to take the stance that I should be angry and lecture the owner. Now, with age, and year of experience, I just feel sorry.
I feel sorry because overweight pets just aren’t living their best life. I feel sorry because the human families don’t get to enjoy their dog or cat the way I have gotten to enjoy mine. But most of all, I feel sorry that no veterinarian has shown them the way out.
So, over the next few blog posts, I’m going to discuss:
- Is your pet overweight?
- How do you properly feed your pet?
- How you can exercise your pet
- When is it time to seek professional help (a.k.a. When should you come and see me?)
Is your pet overweight?
There are many different ways to tell if your dog or cat is overweight. Hill’s, who makes Science Diet (great food and company), has a very complicated measuring system – I recommend that you leave this to the veterinarians. However, Purina makes a good 9 point system for dogs and cats called the body condition score. The ideal score is 5. Any score greater than 5 is overweight. Any score less than 5 is underweight. I strongly recommend using the chart to help you.
Basically, if your pet stands in front of you, you should be able to do the following:
- Look at them from the side and see a rise in their waist in front of their back legs
- Look at them from on top and see a narrowing at the waist
- See the last rib (yes, that doesn’t mean they are underweight)
- FEEL most of the other ribs (not see) with GENTLE pressure placed on their chest
Ducks waddle, but no other animal should. If you look at the stats to the right, over 30% of dogs are overweight and nearly 20% are obese! That means that over dogs in the U.S. are higher weigh more than they should! This leads to problems for you, their owner. 25% of overweight dogs develop serious joint complications, which raises annual veterinary costs. The worst stat of it all? Overweight dogs have a life expectancy of 2.5 years less than the average.
If you live in Kenosha, Racine, or Franksville, let’s just pull the band-aid off now and tell it like it is. You’re reading this blog for a reason: there’s a good chance your dog is overweight. Today is when we start to recognize it for what it is. Today is the day we start to get our pets back and living again. Follow my next few blogs at Prairie Side Veterinary Hospital and see if we can’t take back our pet’s lives.