Posted in cats, dogs, ferrets, guinea pig, pet health, pets, rabbits

Weighing in on the new year

Nothing makes new year’s day so solemn as the view in our mirrors. If you haven’t been a bit naughty and nibbled on too many Christmas cookies or hamantaschen, you need not read further.
To make matters worse, we may allow our pets to have more treats too during the holidays, even if it’s only cat or dog food (table scraps can be even more calorie laden – we don’t recommend giving them to pets).
You know you can spot where the extra pounds on your own body are: your stretchy pants from last Thanksgiving are reaching their limit and you can’t take a deep breath while wearing that suit jacket anymore. Humans only have to step on the scales to know just how far astray we are from our “ideal weight.”
As pets age, they tend to exercise less, so their weight may go up once they lose their youthful vim and vigor. So how do we know when the extra shag on Fido is more than just fur? And how do pet parents know what’s a healthy weight for Fido or Muffin?
First take a look at your four-legged friend. The outline of your pet should be relatively even, without bulges around its middle. A sidewise glance shouldn’t reveal a tell-tale tummy hanging down either.
For once being middle of the road is good – that’s just where your pet’s physique should be, neither more nor less.
There are some disorders which may lead to your pet losing weight, no matter how much he or she eats. You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs but not see them sticking out. A pet whose ribs are visible may be considered underweight. For some animals, a lean body is a feature of the breed – a good example is the tiny chihuahua which has little plumpness to its structure.
There are also some breeds whose body structure will be larger, such as the big build of St. Bernards.
Much as you might like to share your own weight-loss strategies with others, remember that there are dangers to restricting a pet’s caloric intake on your own. Before you go into calorie counting for both you and your pet, make a visit to the vet first. Since you may not be aware of health problems that may be contributing to your pet’s weight – whether over or under what’s considered normal – the veterinarian should weigh in on your pet’s health status before launching any new feeding program.
If it does mean a change in your pet’s menu, relax – chances are good that your doctor won’t be suggesting that you take up eating dog food!

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Owned by three cats over age 13