Pet Care: Weighing In On Your Pet’s Health
When it comes to pet care, monitoring your cat or dog’s weight is important for their life expectancy and quality of life. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, pet obesity is an epidemic with nearly 53% of dogs and 55% of cats in the United States being diagnosed as obese or overweight. This excess weight can lead to harmful health issues that make it harder for your pet to move and that shortens its life.
Is My Pet Overweight?
In the U.S., obesity is the most common and preventable disease in dogs and cats. Asking if your pet is overweight is one of the most important questions to ask your veterinarian. Your pet’s weight is one of the biggest influences on their quality of life, preventing certain diseases, and their overall longevity. A body condition score (BCS) can help determine your pet’s weight status.
What Is a Body Condition Score (BCS)?
A body condition score is the pet version of the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is frequently used when measuring body fat in humans based on their weight and height. Unlike BMI scores, a BCS is a number given to your pet based on an assessment of fat on their hips, waist, and ribs.
How is the BCS Measured?
A body condition score generally ranges from a scale of 1-9. If an animal scores a BCS of 1, that means they are critically underweight and are likely in danger of dying from starvation. In contrast, a BCS of 9 indicates that an animal is critically overweight, covered in fat, and at serious risk of developing a litany of medical problems and complications.
An ideal body condition score for your pet is 4 or 5 out of 9. For every number exceeding 5, your pet is an additional 10% over its ideal weight. For example, a dog with a BCS of 8 out of 9 is relatively 30% overweight and in need of immediate pet care and guidance from a veterinarian.
How to Give Your Pet a Thorough Home Check-Up
It can be hard to identify if your pet is overweight just by looking at them. From home, start by evaluating your pet by feeling their ribs, waist, and hips.
A pet with an ideal body condition will have ribs that are easily felt with flat fingers. If you need to use the tips of your fingers to find their ribs, they are likely in the 6 to 9 range.
At the waist, your pet should have an indentation at its midsection. If you only see substance there, they are probably at least overweight, maybe even obese. If the abdomen area hangs low and drags, this indicates a dangerous amount of fat.
Not unlike humans, animals get ‘love handles’ too! When feeling for your pet’s hips, you should be able to feel the points of their hips without difficulty, with no flabby areas on any side. Likewise, if you can clearly see the animal’s hips or if there is no presence of muscle on them, they are grossly underweight.
Pet Care Tools: Calculating A Body Condition Score (BCS)
If you’ve given your dog or cat a thorough inspection and you’re still not sure where they fall on the BCS scale, try these handy calculators for more reference.
Dog Body Condition Score Calculator
Click here to calculate the BCS score of your dog using their weight, breed, and gender per standards implemented by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Cat Body Condition Score Calculator
Click here to calculate the BCS score of your cat using their weight, breed, and gender per standards implemented by The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA).
What Are Health Conditions That Can Arise Due to Being Overweight or Obese?
Dogs or cats with excess fat are at a much higher risk of developing many serious medical conditions, including:
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Chronic inflammation
- Many cancers, especially abdominal ones
It’s never too late to help reduce your pet’s chances of developing one of these serious disorders. The few minutes that you take to worry about your pet’s diet and weight can significantly add to their lifespan. This weight also usually causes your pet to interact less and feel less playful.
How Many Calories Should I Feed My Pet Daily?
One important aspect of pet care is feeding your four-legged friend. Our veterinarian team can offer suggestions on daily caloric intake based on some lifestyle questions such as how active your pet is, their age, and their medical history. Don’t forget to include any treats in this daily calorie count too.
A calorie is a unit of energy in a serving of food. We usually recommend that you feed your pet 25-30 calories per pound of body weight daily. For example, a medium breed active 30 lb. dog needs 922 calories per day while a sedentary 10-pound dog only needs 296.
This varies on your pet’s individual health though. For instance, if they are neutered or spayed, we recommend a 30% reduction of calories as the pet generally becomes more sedentary.
How Can I Help My Pet Lose Weight Safely?
When you want to help your pet lose weight the healthy way, you need to first determine how much weight they need to lose. We recommend making this goal in terms of pounds per month. A dog can safely lose 1%-3% of its body weight and a cat just 0.5%-2% monthly. It’s not safe to put your pet on a crash diet as they can develop serious medical conditions such as liver failure in just three days’ time. Patience is key when it comes to pet weight loss.
What Are Some Great Exercises for My Pet?
At All Aboard Animal Hospital, we make exercise recommendations based on the pet’s species, breed, gender, age, and current health. Walking, ball retrieving, chase, and swimming are all great activities.
Dogs can benefit from at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day and cats should get about three 5-minute play periods daily.
Learn Important Pet Care Tips from Our Professional Veterinary Team
Do you want to learn more about pet care that increases your pet’s life expectancy? Schedule a visit at our Pompano Beach veterinarian office. We offer routine, medical, and surgical care. Additionally, we offer many pet health resources including the All Aboard Animal Hospital’s Facebook page which aims to help you learn how to take the best care of your pet.
To schedule an appointment to discuss your pet’s dietand overall health, call 945-785-7780, today.