Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is the cornerstone of a healthy and prolonged life. It can be easy to accidentally overfeed your pet or let them indulge in one too many treats. Since each breed has a different “healthy” weight, it can be difficult to know the sweet spot for your pet. The team at Mobile Vet M.D. has put together this list of five facts and myths about your pet’s weight to help you keep your furry friend healthy.
Pet Weight Myth: My Pet is Supposed to Be “Naturally Chubby”
While a chubby cat or chunky dog may look cute, there is nothing cute about the health risks of having an overweight or chubby pet. Obesity in pets is preventable and should be taken seriously. If your pet is overweight, it could put them at risk for many conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, bladder stones, some cancers, and an overall shorter lifespan.
Here are a few quick tips to determine if your pet is overweight:
- Slide your hand flat along the side of your pet’s body, from shoulder to tail. If your pet is at a healthy weight, you should be able to feel their ribs without a thick layer of fat or pushing too hard to feel the ribs.
- You should be able to see your pet’s “waist” when looking at them from above. A good way to determine this is that the shoulders should be wider than your pet’s abdomen.
- From a side profile, your pet’s tummy should not hang low to the ground or excessively droop
Fact: Exercise is Important
Exercise is necessary and important for dogs and cats of all ages. It can be simple activities, and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time to make a great impact on your pet’s health. Going for walks or runs, playing fetch, or playing other games such as tug-of-war or hide and seek can be great exercises for your dog. Using a feather, string, ball, laser or other type of toy to entice your cat to play can be a great way to get your cat moving. You can also place cardboard boxes or cat trees around the house to encourage your cat to climb and explore. For more exercise ideas for your specific pet’s needs, contact your veterinarian team.
Myth: My Pet Should Have Access to Food at All Times
Your pet doesn’t need access to their food bowl 24/7 in order to get the nutrients they need. Most pets tend to eat all of the food that is put in front of them, and providing food constantly will make it easier for them to put on unnecessary weight. Even for pets who are grazers or nibblers, practicing portion control is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight. This helps you have more control over your pet’s caloric intake, and prevents them from overeating.
Myth: Low-Carb or Fad Diets are Healthier for My Pet
Just because a food is branded as grain-free or low-carb does not mean it is healthier for your pet. In fact, it could be potentially dangerous. While fad diets may seem appealing, they may be lacking important nutrients and components that your pet needs, and feeding your pet the wrong diet can leave them malnourished. Talk to your veterinarian about the particular nutritional needs for your pet, and share with them the brand and style of food that you are feeding your pet for their diet.
Fact: Healthy Means Happy
If your pet is at their ideal weight, they will have an overall better quality of life. Not only will they feel better and have more energy, but they will have less aches and pains and a decreased risk for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and other complications that accompany obesity.
We’re here to help your pet live a happy and healthy life, with nutritional counseling and advice for pets who may need to lose a little weight. Contact Mobile Vet M.D. online or via phone at (732) 387-7977 to schedule a wellness exam today, and to start your pet’s health journey is starting off on the right paw.
Please note: Before any visit, it is always a good idea to confine your pet to a small area. A bathroom works well, or you can get them cozy in their crate. Lots of pets can go running for cover as soon as they hear someone at the door! And this way, we can be sure to provide care promptly.