Is My Furry Family Member Overweight?
We all want to see our pets as healthy as possible.
A few pointers to tell if your pet is at risk, you should be able to feel all of your pet's ribs without a thick layer of fat over them. Also, much like on hour glass, the chest should be wider than the abdomen. You should notice a tuck up area from the chest to the abdomen. If you cannot distinct chest and abdomen, and feel a noticeable fat pad over the ribs, your pet is overweight. Once we have observed the fat cover over your pets ribs we can then we can grade the severity of the weight (or underweight as well) using a Body Condition Score Chart (BCS).
Body Condition Score (BCS)
A Body Condition Score (BCS) Chart is a useful tool in to observe, document, and keep track of pet's physical health. A BCS Chart consists of nine levels of weight with one being very thin and nine severely obese.
Grade 1 and Grade 2 is when the ribs, spine, and pelvic bones are easily visible with your eyes. Muscle mass loss is easily visible and noticed at this stage. There is also a pronounced abdominal tuck with no palpable fat cover over the ribs. This is what we also refer to as emaciated.
At Grade 3 and Grade 4 the ribs, spine, and pelvic bones are visible. Minimal abdominal fat can be felt over the ribs. An obvious waist can be seen as well.
Grade 5 is our ideal weight to strive for. At grade 5 the body is well proportioned. The ribs, spine, and pelvic bones are not visible but can easily be felt. An obvious waistline and abdominal tuck can be seen. Any grade over 5 is considered over weight or obese depending on the grade.
Grade 6 the ribs, spine, and pelvic bones are not easily felt. The waist and abdominal fat pad is distinguishable, but not obvious. Small fat deposits can be found covering the spine, chest, and tail base.
Grade 7 the waist is diminished as the abdomen is rounded with moderate abdominal fat covering. The ribs, spine, and pelvic bones are not easily felt due to the moderate fat covering.
At Grade 8 the waist is no longer visible due to excess fat covering. There is an obvious rounding of the abdomen with visible fat pads and fat deposits over the hips. The ribs, spine, and pelvic bones are not easily felt due to the excess fat covering.
Grade 9 is a serious grade. At grade 9 there are large fat deposits on the chest, spine, and above the hips. Excessive abdominal fat does not allow the ribs, spine, and pelvic bones to be felt. Grade 9 is considered severely obese.
Disadvantages to Carrying Some Extra Pounds
So your pet has some extra pounds, what could that affect? Much like us, months to years of excessive weight can cause, but are not limited to, the following: difficulty breathing, heat intolerance, diabetes, liver disease, and osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis/Joint Problems: excessive weight puts extra pressure on your pet's joints. Signs of osteoarthritis in pets include reluctance to exercise, decreased activity, lameness, trouble going up/down steps, and trouble getting up after laying down.
Diabetes: Unfortunately obesity can play a factor into the development of diabetes. If you are unfamiliar with diabetes, it is an illness where the body is no longer producing or is unable to use insulin produced by the body. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates leading to elevated glucose levels in the blood in urine. Signs of diabetes in pets include; excessive water intake, increased urination, sudden weight loss, decreased appetite, and cloudy eyes (for chronic cases).
Liver Disease: when your pet is overweight their organs have to work harder than normal to accomplish the task. Fatty liver disease is our main concern with liver problems and overweight pets. Fatty liver disease is an illness that causes your pet's liver to be over-worked with processing/storing fat to the point the liver can no longer perform its essential job, riding the body of toxins. Signs of fatty liver disease include loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, jaundice (the skin and tissue turn yellow), vomiting, loss of energy, and depression.
Respiratory Issues and Heat Intolerance: fat in the thoracic (chest) and abdominal cavities can restrict the ability of your pet to fully expand their lungs making it difficult to breathe. Overweight pets do also have trouble with the hot summer weather. If you think about it, it is much like wearing a heavy winter coat on a hot summer day. Things to watch for with respiratory issues and heat intolerance are tiring quickly during regular walks/activity, panting without exercise, and noisy labored breathing.
A few extra pounds might not seem like a lot, it may be cute, it may seem healthier, but a few extra pounds can mean a lot health wise for your pet.
Over Weight Pet?
Here are Our Tips to Help Meet Your New Weight Loss Goals
If you have any questions or concerns about your pet's weight give us a call at (605) 697-5252.
We are happy to help! Happy New Year resolution!