Does Your Pet Have a Weight Problem? Here's How to Tell

From Drugs.com - November 9, 2017

Does Your Pet Have a Weight Problem? Here's How to Tell

THURSDAY, Nov. 9, 2017 -- Cats with diabetes, dogs with cancer, birds with high cholesterol or even rabbits who cannot turn around to clean themselves -- what do these animals all have in common?

They are either overweight or obese, and it's serious.

"We have a problem -- almost all of American pets are overweight or obese," explained veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

"The latest statistics show that approximately 54 percent of dogs and 59 percent of cats are overweight or obese as determined by their veterinarian," Ward said.

How can you tell if your pet is overweight?

For more common pets, such as dogs and cats, Ward recommends looking at their belly fat.

If their belly is hanging down or dragging on the floor, it's a problem.

You should also be able to feel your pet's ribs -- they should feel like the knuckles on your hand when you make a fist.

But for more exotic pets -- such as birds, rabbits, ferrets or guinea pigs -- it may be harder to tell, and you must visit your vet, said veterinarian Dr. Laurie Hess. She's a bird and exotic animal specialist.

To determine if a pet is overweight or obese, veterinarians use something called the Body Condition Score, or BCS, according to Ward and Hess.

This looks at lean muscle mass, the size of the animal, where they carry their weight and excess abdominal fat.

In her practice, Hess often sees obese birds, rabbits and even ferrets.

"The saddest obese animal I have ever seen was a pet possum that was so grossly obese it could not stand up," Hess recalled.

Overweight or obese animals are not cute, according to Ward.

It's a hazard to their health, shortening their life span, and your wallet as you pay for expensive treatments, Ward and Hess warned.

"Sadly, most of the medical conditions we see in humans who suffer from excess weight, we see in dogs and cats," Ward said.


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