Many pet owners are unsure how to determine if their dog is indeed overweight. We’re here to make this simple.
We (vets) use a body condition score system to assess your dogs weight as this more accurately indicates their size over numbers. Your dog is given a score of 1-9 and basically we want them to fall into their healthiest weight range, their “ideal” weight range which is 4-5.
Basically, you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs, not too prominently, as there should be a thin layer of fat covering over them. And behind the ribs there should be a waist, as well as a tummy tuck when you look side on. Check out the infographic below.
If your pet is falling in the over ideal category, they need help! In this case you need to work with your vet to move them slowly into the ideal category so that they can live their best life.
This means a slow reduction of food (straight up 10% less, and vary this depending on the response), and a slow increase in activity and stimulation (individual requirements depend on concurrent conditions such as arthritis, heart disease etc). If a reduction in the food they are already on isn’t effective, we can look at lower energy diets to try.
Two things are essential to monitor for weight loss:
1- Measure the amount of food given daily (if we don’t know the exact amount, we can’t make small changes). This can be as easy as drawing a line on a cup to measure the fill.
2- Invest in scales – although we’ve said the body condition is more important than numbers, once we’ve identified we need some weight loss, numbers are the easiest way to track where we are at weekly and what changes we need to make.