Is your Dog Overweight?

Dogs may put on weight from extra snacking or less exercise; typically after a festive season, or a long winter when routine exercise may have been reduced?  It can be quite difficult to weigh your dog at home, particularly if you own a Saint Bernard, however there is another way which we refer to as body scoring.  

Body scoring is outlined from the numbers one to five.  Scoring at one, the dog is emaciated.  Scoring at five, the dog is obese.  Scoring at three, the dog is a perfect weight for its breed.  If we score a two, the dog is underweight, if we score a four then the dog is slightly overweight and we may need to seek veterinary advice to ensure the animal is healthy.    

Dog breeds are all different, some are large, some are small, some are slim and some are stocky.  So we now need to understand why we score a one, two, and three and so on.  To do this we need to look at the ribs, waist and hindquarters.  If we can see bones clearly without physical contact, then we know the dog will score a one.  If we cannot see any bones clearly, and the bones cannot be detected easily from examination and are covered in layers of fat, then we know the dog scores a five.  The ribs, pelvic bones and hind bones should all be easily detected with touch and should have a layer of muscle mass.  Too much fat layer, or the bones are felt to easily, then the dog will most likely score a two or four.  The waist and abdominal area should show an upward curve in a dog scoring three.  If there is an overhang, then we will score nearer four or five depending on mass.  If the waist is visibly noticeable and is slighter then we may range closer to one or two. 

Many health issues can cause weight changes in dogs, so it important to seek veterinary attention if you feel your dog is not scoring a three and is not in optimum condition. 

Is your Cat Overweight?

It is important to make sure that cats have plenty of exercise and are not overfed. Being overweight can cause health problems, the same as it does in humans.  

But how do you know if your cat is overweight? When you stroke your cat, you should be able to easily feel their ribs. You should also be able to see a waistline when you look at them from above.

If a cat is 15% over their ideal body weight, this usually means that they are overweight.
If they are 30% over their ideal weight, they are classed as obese. It can be hard to feel the ribs in an obese cat as they are covered in a layer of fat. There may also be a “skirt” of drooping fat and skin underneath the cat. They will not no obvious waistline.

The age of your cat can affect their tendency to gain weight. A cat aged under two years of age is less likely to gain weight. As they age, they use less energy, so between the ages of two and ten, they can be at increased risk of being overweight.

Once a cat is over twelve, there can be more tendency to be underweight.  

But does it really matter if your cat is carrying a bit extra weight?  You might think your fat cat looks cute and cuddly, but unfortunately, obese and overweight cats can have a poor quality of life.  There can also be the risk of killing your cat through overfeeding.

  • Being overweight and obese can restrict their ability to groom themselves, to keep themselves clean.

  • They can get joint problems.

  • There is more risk of weight related diseases such as diabetes and urinary infections.

If you do think your cat is overweight, seek advice from your vet. Do not put your cat on a “crash diet” as this can be harmful. A steady decrease over a period of time can be more helpful.  

Multi Cat Households
Cats are solitary creatures in the wild and don’t tend to live in social groups as dogs would.  They can find it stressful to live in a household with other cats, even if they are their siblings. This stress can cause cats to overeat.  If you live in a household with more than one cat, it can be difficult, as the cat may finish off food the others have left, so try to:–

  • Feed the overweight cat in another room. Don’t let him/her out until the other cats have finished eating and any leftover food taken away.

  • Put food into feeder toys. This will mean the cat also has to take exercise to get the food.

  • Put food into cardboard boxes with holes that are only small enough for the other cats to fit in, not the overweight one. This means the other cats can eat when they wish, but the overweight one can eat when you give them food.  

  • You can buy bowls that have microchips in them and will only open for the cat with the specific microchip, so this can prevent the overweight cat from eating food from other cats.

If you ever feel your cat is unhappy, ill or gaining or losing weight, seek advice from your vet.