Helping Overweight pets lose weight with Helen Woodward Animal Center
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Helen Woodward Animal Center spokesperson veterinarian Angela Gaeto stopped by Good Morning San Diego to discuss overweight pets.
What is considered a good weight?
Due to the wide variety of breeds of cats and dogs there is no set ideal weight for every pet. Veterinarians typically use a scale from 1-9 called body condition scoring to determine where your pets weight falls on the ideal scale for its frame. On this scale 4-5 is ideal for dogs and cats. The scale takes into account observable and palpable features that can be easily assessed. These include a discernable waist behind the ribs and an abdominal tuck observable from behind the ribs and below the waist. This shows the overall distribution of fat. It also takes into account breeds that may have larger rib cages but should still have slimmer abdominal features. Palpable features include areas of fat covering the ribs, spine, and hip bones. These should cover the bones enough to have them not protruding under the skin but still be easily felt during an examination. Cats should also have minimal abdominal fat pads. Scores between 1-3 include animals who are below the ideal weight and should increase their weight and scores between 6-9 are animals that need to lose weight. Most household pets are either ideal weight or overweight.
Many of the same principles of weight management for people also apply to animals. Therefore exercise regimens should be tailored to a pets specific needs and interests. Use your pets favorite activities to encourage more exercise. If you have a more toy motivated pet then use toys to encourage them to move around. If your pet doesn’t normally play with toys then use their desire to eat to get them active. There are many toys designed to hold food and slowly distribute out the kernels as the pet moves the toy around. Many animals have physical limitations that prevent certain kinds of exercise and may even be a result of their weight. Therefore, weight loss should include activities the pet enjoys as well as activities that they are capable of. Taking an overweight, inactive dog on long walks right away may be very difficult and painful for them. It is important to start slow and make long term changes.