Chubby pets may be cute, but leads to serious health issues

Dr. Cynthia Maro

With winter underway, in our part of the country, many pets and their families become less active. The tendency to skip a walk is so easy when daylight is short and the weather is cold.

Decreased activity often leads to boredom-snacking which can easily pack on the pounds.

Obesity in pets is a serious health condition. Chubby tabbies and pudgy pooches are adorable, but pet parents must show determination to help pets maintain a healthy weight or shed extra fat.

Many owners are shocked when I tell them their pets are overweight. There are two determinants of a healthy body that veterinarians evaluate during a physical exam.

Pet owners often believe the vet is simply petting an animal, but often the staff is determining your pet’s BCS (body condition score) and MCS (muscle condition score).

Obesity in pets is a serious health condition. Chubby tabbies and pudgy pooches are adorable, but pet parents must show determination to help pets maintain a healthy weight or shed extra fat.

These two scores tell us if your pet is overweight, underweight or at ideal lean body weight, and whether muscle tone needs to be improved. Many aging pets begin losing muscle mass when they become less active; even though weight may be consistent. If lean muscle decreases, pets are more likely to suffer from degenerative diseases, like arthritis and disc disease.

You can test to see if your dog is overweight. Slide your hands along the rib cage, just behind the shoulders. If you can easily feel your dog’s ribs, without seeing them, then your dog may be at an ideal weight.

Janelle B. Smith

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