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Pudgy Pets

by Michelle Ferrera, DVM

We don’t care what you dog looks like in a bathing suit, we just want them to be healthy.

It has been estimated that 30-40 percent of pet dogs and cats are overweight in the United States.  This is a result of excess calorie intake and inadequate exercise, but other contributing factors like breed, age, sterilization, hormonal disorders, and medication side effects can play a role. 

What is considered  ideal body condition? The ribs should be easily felt, but not seen. There should be a visible taper at the waist when viewed from the top and the side.  The base of the tail should feel smooth with a thin layer of fat over the bones.

Excess body weight takes a toll on your pet‘s health.  Earlier onset of  arthritis with associated lameness, diabetes mellitus, skin problems, heart and respiratory difficulty, blood lipid disorders are just a few. These conditions will shorten your pet’s healthy life span , and medical intervention to treat these conditions results in more frequent veterinary care and increased expense.

If you are uncertain if your pet is overweight, or are not sure how to go about implementing a weight loss program, please consult your veterinarian. Cats can develop life-threatening hepatic lipidosis, a fatal liver condition, if placed on an aggressive calorie-restricted diet. Your veterinarian can help you calculate the optimal weight and calorie intake for your pet, help you choose an appropriate diet and treats, and set a timetable for realistic weight loss for your pet.