We have spent time discussing the importance of keeping your pet lean in previous posts here at PetPalsTV, but the pet obesity epidemic continues to rage unchecked here in North America. In a recent press release, Hill's Pet Nutrition asked National Geographic Wild's Critter Fixer veterinarians, doctors Ferguson and Hodges, to help them educate more pet owners about the dangers of those excess pounds on your pup or kitty.
What is so startling to many veterinarians is not that our pets are overweight, but rather the fact that 90% of pet owners have no idea that their pet is packing extra pounds. Sometimes it's easy to understand the challenges that pet parents face when trying to determine if their furry friend needs a diet. Long-haired breeds and even different body conformations among animals can challenge our ability to objectively assess our pet's overall weight.
But, it's really not just about the amount that a pet weighs, but rather that animal's Body Condition Score (BCS). BCS helps the veterinary team evaluate your pet and make the best recommendation for diet as well as exercise. You can learn more about this easy to use tool at the the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's website. Even without the colorful charts, you can do a quick assessment of your pet at home. Ready??
1) Make a fist and look/feel your knuckles where your fingers meet your hand. You can easily see and feel each knuckle, right?
2) Now, open your fist, palm facing down, and look again. Not so easy to see, but you can still feel the individual knuckles.
3) Finally, flip your hand over, palm up. You really can't see or feel the knuckles.
Now, run your hands down both sides of your pet while he/she is standing. Do you see and feel the ribs, just like the fist above? That pet is UNDERWEIGHT and may benefit from more calories. Can you feel each rib, but it's not really easy to see? That's just like your open hand with the palm down . . . that pet is in GOOD body condition. Did you not feel any ribs? Sadly, that's just like your hand with the palm up . . . your pet is overweight.
But, don't despair, there are steps you can take to help your chubby pet, and step one is talking to your veterinarian. He or she is best suited to guide you in setting up the right plan for your pet's diet goals. In some cases, minimizing treats as well as reducing portion size of your pet's regular diet may work. In others, sticking to a veterinary/therapeutic diet may be the better option for safe, controlled weight loss.
Learn how many calories are in those treats your pet loves so much!
Keeping weight off your pet is not only healthier, it can also extend his or her lifespan! Everyone wants to keep our furry friends with us for as long as possible, so let's do the right thing and help our flabby tabbies and chunky pups to lose that weight! It's good for both of you!!