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Overweight Pets
Monday, June 18, 2018
  By: Kingsdale Animal Hospital  In: Pet Health
Overweight Pets
Is obesity a problem in the pet population?

Obesity is a growing problem in the North American human and pet population. According to Stats Canada, in 2014 approximately 20% of the adult Canadian population was classified as obese. An additional 40% of men and 27% of women in Canada were classified as overweight. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, approximately 56% of dogs and 60% of cats were classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian in 2017.

How do I know if my pet is overweight or obese? 

This is a very commonly asked question in the vet clinic. Veterinarians determine this through something called the Body Condition Score. The Body Condition Score assess how easily we can feel your pets ribs and waist. An ideal body condition score is one in which the ribs can be felt with light pressure (without excess fat covering) through the chest and a waistline is visible from above and from the side. 
Check out this link from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association on how a Body Condition Score is determined for DOGS

As you can see in the links above, a pet is deemed overweight if their Body Condition Score is 6-7 out of 9 and obese if their Body Condition Score is 8-9 out of 9. A pet is classified as overweight when it is more difficult to palpate the ribs due to the fat coverage and the waist is less prominent. Obesity is seen when it your pet's waist is no longer discernible, there is heavy fat cover on the ribs, and possible fat deposits on the back, tail, neck, and limbs.

What's the problem if my pet is overweight or obese?
Although some people find it cute, there are health risks associated with pets being overweight or obese. Arthritis and diabetes are two disease that are much more common among overweight and obese pets.

How do I help my pet if he or she is overweight?
Weight loss can be difficult for pets as it can be for people too. It comes from a combination of balancing caloric intake and increasing exercise.
Balancing caloric intake - Weight loss diets, such as Hill's W/D or Medi-Cal Royal Canin's Satiety are designed to help pets feel full and thus lose weight in a slow, safe, controlled manner through reduced caloric intake. When reducing caloric intake it is very important to ensure that your pet is on a proper weight loss diet and not simply cutting back on their regular diet. If their regular diet is cut back they may not get enough nutrients (vitamins, minerals, protein, etc).
Increasing exercise - For dogs, this can include increase frequency, duration, and intensity of walks, swimming in the summertime, and off leash play. For cats, this can involve making them "hunt" for their food by putting their food in various spots around the house or inside toys that they have to chase and play with. Playing with lasers and toys and having cats chase these around the house can also help.
If you are concerned about your pet's weight please give us a call at 905-833-5401 and book an appointment to discuss your pet's weight. We are happy to discuss your pet's Body Condition Score with you and go through the various options you have to help your pet return to a healthy weight!

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