Ideal weight is something that many pet parents struggle with. After long gaps between vet visits, many of us have stopped in to learn that all those treats are starting to add up. Our vets will have better idea of what our pets ideal weight should look like, but we wanted to point out some easy tips to help us stay on track between vet visits.
Studies show year after year that pets in America are universally suffering from obesity. In 2018, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese. Reports notes that dogs and cats are considered overweight if they are at least 10%–20% heavier than their ideal weight. The true issue lies in what comes because of this obesity epidemic. Everything from cardiovascular diseases, metabolic abnormalities, joint disorders, and decreased immune function can be attributed to less than ideal weight conditions.
Key factors to obesity tend to be age and breed oriented. Older pets tend to experience weight issues as well as smaller breeds. Thankfully, smaller breeds also tend to have an easier time losing the weight.
With this in mind, it is clear to see why keeping an eye on our pets body condition is so important. There are ideal weights associated with breeds and this information is readily available online. But what if our pet falls outside of breed standard (either being larger or smaller than the typical pet of this breed) or we have a super mutt that has no general benchmark?
Here are some general tips to help us along. Of course, relaying any concerns with your vet will be the most accurate way of making sure our pets are staying healthy, but as we know this isn't always an available option. (3) Generally, for a healthy pet weight, we should be able to see the contours of their bodies. In dogs, bones should not be overtly visible but we should be able to feel them with a light press. There should be a noticable tuck where their ribs meet their pelvic girdle. (2) With more athletic breeds we may see a slightly different, but still entirely healthy body condition. Spine and pelvic bones still should not be visible, but the last few ribs may be. That tuck we spoke of previous should be even more pronounced along with the muscle definition our go-get-em dogs have worked so hard for.
For cats, we see very similar trends. We should still be able to feel, but not see the ribs. The abdominal tuck is back again, following the ribs and tucking into the pelvic girdle. In cats we should be able to see the shoulder blades articulate (go up and down) with movement, much like their relatives the lion.
What this infographic doesn't feature is what is known as the primordial pouch, which is a fleshy pouch that develops for many of our feline friends as they mature. This is thought to protect vital organs in the event of a scuffle. Although this is prominant in many cats, it shouldn't effect the overall contour of our pets bodies and the markers should still be visible.
Feeding our pets appropriately is a large part of a healthy life, as most of us may be feeding more than is intended. It is always best to feed dogs at their ideal weight when trying to lose or maintain weight, not the weight they are currently. Cats struggling with obesity issues should always be gradually fed down to their ideal weight, as large changes in their diet can be harmful to their normal digestive system and can induce hepatic lipidosis, especially in obese cats. Frequent activity and a well regulated diet are always keys to a happy and healthy life.
Understanding ideal weight is a crucial tool in us maintaining our pet's healthy weight throughout their lives. Maintaining a healthy weight is key to a long and healthy life with our pets.