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Asking the veterinarian if your pet is overweight is one of the most critical questions you should ask, and one that they may be reluctant to answer. Many vets, believe it or not, are scared to tell you whether your pet is overweight or obese. This is partly because your veterinarian does not want to insult you unintentionally. Weight difficulties are complex because they are fraught with perceived judgment, intense emotions, and social stigmas.

Healthy Weight for Pets

People who are concerned about their weight are familiar with the BMI (Body Mass Index) as a metric for determining their ideal weight. Pet owners are likewise concerned about their pets’ weight. Fortunately, there is a means to assess the health of our four-legged friends as well. BCS (Body Condition Score), a quantitative yet subjective approach for evaluating body fat, is the pet equivalent of BMI. 

A pet’s scale may appear more complicated than on a human scale because, while people come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, the pet world—particularly the canine population—has a wider range of body styles.

The most common body condition scales are 1-5 or 1-9. A 1-9 scale is used by most veterinarians. This larger scale allows them to more accurately detect slight weight changes in your pet, although either scale will suffice. Pets are often rated from 1 to 9 on the latter scale, with 4-5/9 being the ideal body weight.

Effects of Obesity

Excess weight and fat tissue in pets has been linked to a variety of serious consequences. Obesity has been linked to various cancers and has been demonstrated to induce or exacerbate osteoarthritis and hypertension. 

Obese pets are more likely to have metabolic and endocrine problems, such as type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems, and renal failure. The most significant consequence of pet obesity is a lower quality of life and a shorter lifespan. Chronic, low-grade inflammation also appears to be the common denominator in several obesity-related illnesses.

It’s best to identify the scale by referring to the highest number, no matter whatever approach you use. On the 5 point scale (1-5), a dog with a BCS of 5 is obese, whereas on the 9 point scale (5/9) it is at its optimal weight. On the 5 point scale, a cat with a BCS of 3/5 would be optimal weight and thin on the 9 point scale. As a result, reference points are critical.

Proper Nutrition is Critical

Eliminate table scraps, high-calorie treats, and focus on healthy foods and treats. Using a slow-feeding dish or food puzzle that makes it tougher for your pet to gulp down their food, or toys that dispense food in small amounts, may help to slow down your pet’s food consumption. 

Smaller, more frequent meals that are nutrient-dense may be beneficial to your pet’s health as well. Keep in mind, if you purchase food from a store, the amount recommended on the package should be used as a general guideline rather than an exact amount for your particular pet.

Consult your veterinarian to determine the proper amount and frequency of feeding for your pet. You can also request advice regarding the appropriate food for your pet’s condition and history.

Bringing Your Pet Back to Normal Weight

It should come as no surprise that there is no one-size-fits-all solution or miracle cure for helping your pet lose weight. What works for one pet may or may not work for another. A dedication to a healthier lifestyle that achieves a balance between calories ingested and calories used by the body for normal processes and activities is required to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

You must first assist your dog in achieving a healthy weight before you can assist them in maintaining it. This could entail putting underweight or overweight dogs on a particular diet, feeding schedule, or exercise routine. It could also entail using an activity monitor to track your pet’s activities.

Losing weight too quickly can be dangerous, so it’s important to be patient when your pet is on their weight loss journey. Develop realistic goals for reducing your pet’s weight in a healthy manner with your veterinarian as a team. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions for healthier nutrition and activity that will result in a realistic and safe pace of weight loss based on your pet’s general health.

Once you’ve established fair goals for your pet’s weight loss and maintenance, keep track of their progress. There will be victories and failures, just as there will be with any weight loss program. You can evaluate what’s working and what isn’t by tracking and recording your pet’s progress, and make program tweaks as needed.

When Goal Weight is Reached

Pet owners should exercise portion control with their cats and dogs at home and make sure they are measuring out the correct serving amount for their pet. Everyone in the house is responsible for keeping pets healthy, and to avoid overfeeding, pet owners should keep accurate track of how much food a pet gets each day.

Keeping your pet active and moving around will also help them maintain a healthy weight. Fun activities can provide beneficial amounts of exercise for pets, whether it’s taking extra walks around the neighborhood, playing fetch, or using cat toys. These can help us not just strengthen our bonds with our pets, but also remain more active.

Prevention is Key

Obesity can affect any species of pet, and the main reason is excessive food or insufficient exercise, though obesity can also be caused by diseases.

Make an honest assessment of your pet’s health and weight with the help of your veterinarian. Is your pet suffering from any medical issues that have been caused – or exacerbated – by their weight? Is your pet’s weight putting him or her at risk for sickness or other issues? Concentrate on what matters most: your pet’s health and happiness.

To keep your pet from becoming obese, make sure they eat well and get plenty of activity. Contact your local veterinarian with the PetDesk app to schedule an appointment if you’re concerned about your pet’s weight.