Weight loss. We know, it’s a tricky subject. Nobody likes to be told their pet needs to lose a little weight (any more than we like to hear it about ourselves!). But those extra pounds your pet is carrying have detrimental effects on their health and longevity, and we know you want them to live a long, healthy life. So what can you do about it? October 14 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, making it a great time to have your pet evaluated to ensure they are as healthy and fit as they can be.
What Is Considered Obese For Dogs and Cats?
So how can you tell if your pet is overweight or obese? The best way to answer this question is to visit your veterinarian, who will evaluate your furry family member by taking a weight measurement and conducting a physical exam to determine their body condition score.
Cats and dogs are evaluated on a standardized nine-point scale, with 1 being so thin all bones are easily distinguishable at a distance, to 9, where there are obvious fat deposits all over the animal’s body. An obese animal usually has an excess body weight of 10-15% or more and a score of 7 or higher on the body condition scale. But it’s important to note that depending on the size of your pet, even a few ounces or pounds can tip the scales into unhealthy territory, even if they don’t look that rotund.
What Can You Do to Help?
Healthy weight reduction needs to be gradual and is typically two-pronged.
First, you’ll tackle your pet’s diet. In both dogs and cats, the extra pounds usually creep on with overfeeding, excess treats, and table scraps. Your veterinarian will give you a daily caloric intake, and recommend a feeding schedule and possibly a low-fat food with plenty of protein and fiber that can both provide a feeling of fullness, and stimulate metabolism.
Second, you’ll incorporate a safe and healthy exercise plan that will take into consideration any health issues your pet may have, such as arthritis or a heart condition. Typically for dogs, 15-30 minutes of leash walking daily, in addition to playtime, is adequate. But, based on specific goals, this time may be extended, and for younger pets, can help burn off excess energy as they regain fitness. For cats, interactive toys and daily play that involves chase and catch are important.
GVS Rehabilitation Department Can Help
Here at Guardian Veterinary Specialists, you can take advantage of our Pets Get Fit weight loss program. This program is a safe and healthy way for your pet to lose weight and increase fitness. The only program of its kind in our area, Pets Get Fit is overseen by our highly experienced rehabilitation staff, led by Molly Whitlow, DVM, who is a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT). Dr. Whitlow evaluates each pet’s condition, develops a customized plan designed to achieve the best results, and oversees its implementation.
Pets will go through a wide variety of exercises all tailored to improve balance and strength while losing weight the healthy way. Each session includes 30 minutes of floor therapy and pool exercises. All you need is a referral from your family veterinarian. If you have any questions about our Pets Get Fit program or pet obesity, feel free to contact us at (914) 704-3400.