1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email

Top 7 Ways To Tell if Your Pet Is Overweight

By

Pet obesity is currently one of the top health concerns for our pets, and a quick assessment of optimal body weight could be the start to lengthening your pet's life. Here are some tips to tell if your pet tips the scale, and what to do about it.

Working with your vet to rule out other medical problems is the first step. While some drugs and some disease conditions (i.e. hypothyroidism) may cause a pet to be overweight, more often obesity is caused by overfeeding and high calorie foods. Your vet will help you devise a diet and exercise plan for your pet to get on the track to health and fitness.

1. Pet has lost his/her "figure"

Fat cat on red chair © danperry.com on Flickr
Fat cat on red chair © danperry.com on Flickr
When viewed from above, your pet's back should show some gentle curves: a gentle dip after the ribs (waist area), a gradual slope to the base of the tail. When viewed from the side, you should see a "tucked up" area just before the hind legs (not a flat line along the base of the belly).

Your pet may have a haircoat the prevents easy viewing, but gently running your hands along the top outline of your pet should reveal these natural curves.

2. You can no longer feel your pet's ribs

Fat tuxedo cat © John Galt on Flickr
© John Galt on Flickr
With gentle fingertip pressure, you should be able to feel your pet's ribs easily. If you can only feel cushioned body wall, your pet is carrying too much weight.

3. Your pet is constantly searching for food/begging for treats

Fat dog sitting by food bowls © ramsey everydaypants on Flickr
© ramsey everydaypants on Flickr
A pet who is always on the lookout for food versus a pet who is comfortable "free feeding" is more likely to be overweight. If possible, it is best to offer food free choice (always available). This method of feeding does not usually work in mixed pet households and with pets who are always craving their next meal.

Offering low-calorie treats helps reduce some of the cravings without adding on the pounds. Raw carrots are a great alternative if your pet will eat them. Stay away from foods such grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts.

4. Your pet is uninterested in, or unable to exercise and keep up with you

Fat Dog by Vandelizer on Flickr
by Vandelizer on Flickr
Pets of optimum body weight and in good health are usually up for a brisk walk or a game of Frisbee or catch anytime their owner is willing. Pets who are overweight may have the intention, but are soon panting excessively or taking frequent rest breaks just to keep up.

Carrying extra body weight can lead to extra pressure on the joints (arthritis), heart, and lungs.

Additionally, other organs, such as liver and pancreas can be affected; leading to diseases such as Fatty Liver (cats) and Diabetes Mellitus (dogs, cats and humans). Cancer is also a risk factor with obesity.

5. Your pet suffers more from the summer heat than other animals

Fat tabby cat © Else esq. on Flickr
© Else esq. on Flickr
In addition to the body having to work harder just to move around, overweight pets overheat easily. Fat is a great insulator. This condition is known as "heat intolerance", and will put overweight animals at greater risk for heat stroke.

6. Your pet is deemed to be at greater risk for anesthesia and surgery

Mo the cat getting 'fixed' © Bill in Ash Vegas on Flickr
© Bill in Ash Vegas on Flickr
Some drugs are absorbed into the fat layers. This means that more drug is required to induce/maintain anesthesia than an animal of normal weight and it takes longer for the anesthesia to wear off.

If the pet is undergoing a surgical procedure in the abdomen, the increased layers of fat make surgery more difficult; it is harder to visualize organs and other tissue, to securely ligate (tie off) vessels, and to close the incision working with extra layers of fat.

7. Support Tools For Healthier Pets

Here are some "support tools" from the Hill's site -- learn how to compare calories, compare pet weight gain to humans, questions to print out for a discussion with your veterinarian, and other healthy tips and tools.
Pet Weight Loss and Fitness Support Tools

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.