A Word From... Dr. C.A. Heller III DVM

Pet Obesity

With the Holidays upon us, we all get worried about gaining weight. The same holds true for our pets. Over time, obesity can, weaken the heart, cause arthritis, reduce stamina and cause inflammation which may result in cancer. Diabetes can also occur.

Most pets, will over eat, if given too large a meal. Also most pets are not active enough to eat the recommended amounts that are printed on pet foods.

How can you tell if your pet is overweight? One way is to have your pet weighed at their Veterinarian’s office. There is a simpler method. Run your hand down your pet’s back. You should just be able to feel the tops of the spinal vertebrae. Then run your hands over the sides of your pet’s chest. You want to just be able to feel, but not see the ribs. Last but not least, stand directly above your pet. You should be able to notice that the waist is thinner than the chest.

If you are not able to feel the vertebrae or the ribs and if there is no waist noticeable, your pet is too heavy. If you can feel the vertebrae too well and if you can see the ribs from a distance, then your pet is too thin.

Once you have an idea of your pet’s current body condition, then you can make adjustments to the portions of food that are fed. Obese pets need to eat smaller portions and underweight pets need to be offered larger portions. Once a week check their progress by feeling the above areas.

Pets kept at an ideal weight generally live longer than their obese counterparts.

Also remember that if your pet is less active during the winter months and you keep feeding the same amount of food, they will get heavy. This can be avoided by reducing the amount of food fed when they become less active. Then in the spring, more food can be fed when they resume a normal level of activity.


C.A. Heller III, DVM
Animal Care Clinic

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