For a pet, not carrying the ideal weight can determine, literally, the length of their lives. The more overweight, the shorter the life. You can cut the time your pet’s lives with you in half, dogs especially. Being underweight can cause problems too, especially with injury. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is not as hard as it might seem.
It is very easy to overfeed our pets. As pups and kittens, they need a lot of regular meals as they are growing so fast. And then suddenly, they are no longer growing up, but out! Pets are just like us in that they need to maintain a healthy weight to remain well throughout their life.
To determine if your pet is overweight, it is not just a matter of getting on the scales. That can come later when you know your pet’s ideal weight. Cats and dogs come in different breeds and within those breeds, they come in all shapes & sizes, like us, with different metabolisms and personalities.
The first thing to do, feel the ribs. You should only be able to see a couple of them, but you should be able to FEEL each rib. If you can SEE all the ribs, then your pet is underweight. If you can’t FEEL any ribs, a diet is in order, and for a dog, an increase in exercise.
Feel the base of the tail, where it meets the back. The area should be lightly padded, but you should still feel bone.
Too much padding, too much weight. Too much bone, not enough weight. The same principle applies to the shoulder and spine areas. Some also carry extra weight at the front or on their “chest”.
For a dog, look at the stomach. Side on, it should taper gently to the spine at the rear of your dog. If the angle is very steep, the dog could be underweight, too round, overweight. If you look at your dog from above, you should see a waistline between the ribs and hips.
If your pet is overweight, you may find it easier to cut down meals sizes by serving two smaller meals, morning and night. That way they don’t feel as hungry for as long. Good quality food, especially raw meaty bones, that is not full of preservatives, fillers etc is helpful. When you think of the principles of dieting for ourselves, one of the first thing that we cut out of our diets is the rubbish & junk food. The same goes for your cat or dog. No more human biscuit treats or bits of toast. It all adds up. And the better quality the main meals, the better for your pet, all round. The other weight loss weapon for dogs, is exercise. Your dog will benefit from this.
The healthier we keep our dogs and cats, the longer we have them in our lives.