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Is Your Pet “Bikini Body Ready”?

Jun 08, 2017 • by Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Humane Veterinary Hospitals Veterinarian
Promoting Pet Weight Loss for a Long, Healthy Life

Summer is classically the time when most of us strive to look our best. Thankfully, animals aren’t about vanity. But seriously, have you noticed your cat or dog’s body condition? Obesity is seen in over half of the pets in the United States. Chances are you have a pet that needs to drop a pound or two. Unfortunately, a few extra pounds can mean shedding years off your pet’s lifespan and making them at risk for diseases like arthritis, diabetes, ligament injury and more. 

How do you know? One can assess their cat or dog’s body condition by feeling over the rib cage, spine and hips. We shouldn’t be able to see these bones, but they should be felt rather easily when petting. When looking from above, the mid-belly should tuck in behind the rib cage and in front of the hips. When looking from the side, the abdomen should tuck up towards the hips. Even muscle tone should be appreciated. Take a look.

What to do about it? The good news is weight loss can be achieved, and your pet needs your help to get their beach body back. If your pet’s weight has become a concern, you can do a couple things right away. 

First, decrease the empty calorie treats. Beggin’ Strips, Snausages, and Temptations are empty, non-nutritious calories that can be cut out of the equation. Know what and how much your pet eats in a day. Keep a food diary for a week and be honest. Treats, table scraps and exact measurements of dry and canned food should be recorded. This is useful information for your veterinarian.Getting a starting weight and target weight with your vet’s guidance and a plan to monitor progress is key. First, your vet will assess the health of your pet and make sure no underlying diseases are contributing to your pet’s obesity. They’ll generate an exercise plan, too. Now that there’s more daylight, playing outside and getting your dog to move on fast-paced walks aids in weight loss. Get your dog out several times daily. Vary the terrain to keep you and your pet interested in new adventures. Indoor-only cats can be exercised by feeding smaller, more-frequent meals in various places around the house so they seek out meals. Additionally, encourage cats to walk or run up and down stairs, chase toys, and jump on and off of cat trees. 

Excess weight may be difficult to assess and weight loss can be difficult to achieve. People with overweight animals often don’t view their pets as overweight. You see your pet daily and it’s hard to judge them or change routine. Your veterinarian is your best resource to give kind support in this matter and keep your pet living longer. Optimal body condition is one of the principles of wellness care, and getting your pet’s weight on the right scale will ensure a long, healthy and happy life!  

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