Modern Medicine, Old-Fashioned Care

Sep 4, 2014 | Nutrition, Pet Obesity

What is a Healthy Weight for Your Pet?

Do you know what a healthy weight looks like on your dog or cat? The result of a poll conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) revealed that over 40% of pet owners admitted they don’t understand what a healthy weight should look like. The pet obesity crisis affects over 80 million pets with over 50% of dogs and cats being recorded as overweight or obese. According to APOP, the number of obese pets has not changed over the last year.

“The first step toward reversing pet obesity is helping pet parents recognize what a healthy pet should look like. Yearly exams include recording the weight of your pet and discussing their body condition score, nutrition and activity level,” said Dr. Laura Weis, co-owner of Doylestown Veterinary Hospital.

Weight Matters

Preventing obesity goes a long way in thwarting the types of diseases and medical conditions which impact the quality and length of your pet’s life. Some medical conditions can be reversed with weight loss associated with changes in diet and activity level. Obesity can shorten the lifespan of your pet. An obese dog or cat is more likely to experience any number of these medical problems:

Heart disease
Liver disease or dysfunction
Kidney disease
Arthritis & chronic joint pain
Heat intolerance
Thyroid disease
Difficulty breathing and related respiratory issues
Increased risk of developing cancerous tumors

Activity Level

With the heat and humidity of summer changing to more crisp conditions, it’s a great time to discover easy outdoor activities you can do with your pet for daily exercise and fun. Easy leash walks around the neighborhood or a short game of fetch in the backyard are great ways to start moving more and don’t require a big commitment in your busy schedule. Encourage the support of the entire family–taking a short walk with the dog or spending a few minutes playing with the cat can be added to a list of age-appropriate household responsibilities.

Enrolling your dog in a doggie daycare or other activity program like a canine fitness camp or agility training will provide consistent and structured exercise and enrichment. Playing all day is great for your dog’s overall wellness.

Proper Nutrition

Nutritional needs change during your pet’s life due to growth and development, the aging process, and the management of various medical conditions. There are pet foods are formulated to meet your pet’s specific situation—talk with your veterinarian about creating an easy-to-follow nutritional plan. The breed, size, energy level and environment of your pet are also factors in determining proper nutritional needs such as calorie intake and frequency of feeding.

Swap table scraps and too many dog treats for healthier choices that fit with their new food plan, such as baby carrots, green beans or apple chunks. Reward your pet with a new toy, a fun activity or extra attention instead of food.

Talk to your veterinarian about body condition score ranges and how it applies to your dog or cat. Nutritional counseling ensures your pet has the proper diet and level of activity to prevent or manage obesity and associated health concerns. Improved overall wellness is your pet’s best chance for a long and happy life with you.

Concerned about your pet’s change in weight or behavior? Call Doylestown Veterinary Hospital at 215-345-6000 to schedule an exam, and we’ll review your pet’s weight, body condition, nutritional plan and medical conditions with you.

BCS chart