He’s Not Fat, He’s Just Fluffy | Helping Your Overweight Pet

Pets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are bigger, some are shorter, and some are just… rounder. If you are reading this, then you may have a friend (cough, cough) who might be concerned their pet is a little overweight. Maybe your friend’s vet has mentioned they are also concerned about their pet’s weight and advised that they should think about slimming down. No judgement here. But where should pet parents start when thinking about this somewhat overwhelming and common issue?

Whatever the reason, the first step when thinking about weight management is to talk honestly with your veterinarian about the signs your pet is heavier than their ideal weight. You can then make a plan to move them gently toward a weight that’s better for them in the long term. Because every pet is a little different, diagnosing a dog or cat as overweight is best done by your veterinarian, who routinely takes body condition, breed, clinical experience, the pet’s historical weight, and physical exam findings into consideration.

Signs Your Pet Might be Overweight

Without getting into specific breed characteristics, there are a few key physical traits that can give you a rough idea about your pet’s body condition. They are: prominence of their ribs, side-view shape of their belly, and the shape of their midsection when viewed from above. Your pet’s ribs should be easy to feel without pressing too hard, but not so prominent they can be individually seen from far away. When viewed from the side, your pet should have a triangular shape to their abdomen as it moves from the end of their ribs to the beginning of their hind legs. Looking from above, there should be a gently sloping hourglass shape to his or her waist that’s easily seen but not extreme. Please note that these are very general guidelines, and many breeds can be at an ideal weight even if they don’t conform to these descriptions.

Risks of Excess Weight

When pets carry extra fat, they also carry extra risk for health challenges as they progress through life. Cats are prone to type II diabetes, urinary system problems, liver problems, personal hygiene troubles, and mobility challenges associated with extra pressure on their bones and joints. Dogs are particularly prone to orthopedic problems since their skeleton is carrying around those extra pounds. Dogs are also more at risk for overheating and breathing problems than slimmer pets. In addition, that extra fat tissue can make diagnosing certain diseases and undergoing surgery more complicated for both dogs and cats. Over the years, there’s also been a debate if long-term obesity is associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. This is a very complicated topic though since genetics, environment, breed, and many other unknown factors also play a role in risk levels for cancer.

How do I Weigh My Pet

It is easier said than done. Cats are wiggly and some dogs are stubborn. To expect them to stand on a scale is not realistic. There are some simple tips that we can suggest to get an accurate weight of your pet. If you have a scale at home and can safely lift your pet, try weighing them by weighing yourself with and without your pet on your bathroom scale. First, weigh yourself alone. Then pick up your pet and step on the scale together. Simply subtract your weight from your combined weights to get your pet’s weight.

If being held is not your pet’s idea of a good time, try weighing your pet in a pet carrier and subtracting the weight of the carrier to get your pet’s weight. If this idea works, write down the weight of the carrier and any comfort items inside to speed up the process next time.

If your pet is too large, too small, or too stressed for the at-home weighing method above, consider stopping by your vet’s office to use one of their special scales. This is also a great way to help reduce vet visit anxiety as your pet will associate the vet’s office with these fun outings to get weighed.

How Can I Help with My Pet’s Weight

As our loving family members, we want to see our pets excel and live long, healthy lives. We will go through great lengths to help them. There are some simple things you can do to help your pet to reach an ideal weight:

1. Regularly Track Your Pet’s Weight

Start a journal by recording the food, treats, and supplements your pet consumes each day. This will  help you identify where extra calories might be sneaking in. Measuring any food or treats prior to feeding will make your journal more accurate.

2. Discover Indoor Activities

There are a million ways to exercise a dog (or leashed cat) outdoors, but as the weather turns frigid, you may need to consider indoor activities too. For your dog, create a fun obstacle course, in your house. and challenge your pup to work through it.

Cats are known for laying around the house. They may move from sunny spot to sunny spot, but their efforts don’t burn much in the way of calories. By stimulating a cat’s mind, you can keep them engaged and more active than they typically are. Consider building a treat (or dry kibble) puzzle for them out of common items from your home. By dispensing their food slowly to them and engaging them in play, you will build some activity into their day.

3. Seek Advice from an Experienced Pet Nutritionists

At all of our centers, nation-wide, we serve Freely kibble to our canine and feline guests. Freely is dedicated to supporting pet parents with all nutrition related concerns that impact our pet’s weight. With their experienced nutrition team, they are committed to total transparency about the protein, fiber, fat and nutrient contents of their foods. They can help you decide not only which Freely recipe is right for your pet, but how much food is the right amount to include when building your pet’s bowl. If their recipes are not the right option for your pet, they promise to give you honest recommendations for other options.

Conclusion

As you care for your pet, remember that maintaining a healthy weight is important to his health and overall well-being. Work with your veterinarian to determine an ideal weight for your pet and be diligent about tracking and monitoring his weight. By keeping your pet engaged, indoors and outdoors, you can promote an active lifestyle. Just as your pet didn’t become overweight overnight, the road to weight loss will take time. You’re on the right track!

 

About: Written with permission and use of blogs from Freelypet.com

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