Did you know that over half of all dogs and cats in the US are overweight? Looking at my cats, I wondered if they could be at risk for being overweight. We have all seen our cute and lovable friends running, walking or just laying around. Have they gotten the “couch potato” look like so many of us have? Here are some tips to find out if your pet is overweight and what you can do to bring them back to a healthy state.
How To Tell Your Dog Is Overweight
The best way to determine whether your dog or cat is carrying some excess weight is to visit your veterinarian. They can use a system such as the body condition score. Body condition scores can be easily found online, where there are pictures of what your pet looks like and what his ideal body looks like. Most websites give scores of one to five or one to 10, and your pet’s physique should resemble a picture of an animal in the middle numbers.
Don’t want to visit the vet? There are other ways to check at home. The best way, according to veterinarians, is to stand above pets and look down on them. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. If you can see them, they are too skinny. If you can’t see their ribs, and place your hands on the side of their chest. If they are still not visible, your dog is probably overweight.
Just like we love our hourglass figures, dogs and cats should also have a nice taper at their waist (between the abdomen and where the hips go into the socket). If they have more of an oval shape, or little to no taper, they are too heavy. Our pets should not be shaped like an egg.
A very overweight or obese pet will have a low hanging belly, hip and neck fat, which is very noticeable. However, it should be noted that most animals will not reach this stage until they are about seven years old.
If you determine that your pet is overweight, you can help your pet get back into shape.
3 Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy
Count Their Calories
As silly as it may sound, we can help count calories for our pets. If a dog or cat is overweight, you may consider cutting their food intake by 25 percent and increase their exercise level gradually day by day. Measuring out their food helps keep them and you on track with their daily intake.
Change Their Diet
In addition, you can change their current food to something that can help manage their weight. Purina’s OM Overweight ManagementTM formulas are commonly prescribed for overweight cats and dogs to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. OM Select Blend Overweight ManagementTM Canine Formula features an enticing blend of crunchy kibble and tender morsels, giving your dog a taste they will savor. In addition, shower your pet with loving attention and playtime rather than high calorie treats or table scraps.
Exercise with Them
We all need a little push. Take your dog out for walks and gradually increase the time you walk to buid up to 30-minute walks twice a day. You both will get moving and help add in digestion and exercise in the outdoors, a win-win. Having your pet exercise may also mean you don’t have to reduce their food as significantly, especially as their endurance builds up — and maybe soon you’ll have an hourglass figure, too.