the scientific study of pet nutrition by veterinary nutrition specialists and experts.

How Do I Know If My Pet Is Overweight?

How Do I Know If My Pet Is Overweight?
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Did you know that over half the pets in the United States are overweight? What’s even more concerning is that overweight pets are at higher risk for medical problems like arthritis and don’t live as long as their trim counterparts? How can you tell if your dog or cat is a perfect weight?  Follow along with these steps and with this helpful video to find out. You might be surprised!

Step 1: Do the Feel Test

  • You should always be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs by gently running the flat of your palms across the sides of the chest.

Step 2: Look for the Tuck

  • For short-haired animals, you should be able to see an ‘abdominal tuck,’ where there is no belly hanging down beyond your pet’s rib cage when viewed from the side. They also have a “waist” behind their ribs when you look at them from above. This may be harder in long-haired animals, but it’s easier to note when the coat is clipped or wet.

Check out the following video to see these steps in action:

Also, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association has charts that can help determine body condition here.

Another Trick: Compare to Your Hand

  • If you’re still not sure, put your hand out with your palm down and fingers straight. Gently run your other hand over your knuckles – this is exactly how padded your pet’s ribcage should feel! Now, turn your hand over so your palm is up (with fingers still straight). Run your other hand over your knuckles through your palm.  If your pet’s ribs feel more like this, he or she is overweight!

Dr. Deborah Linder, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, is the head of the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals and has had articles appear in Eating Well, the Boston Globe, AARP, SHAPE, and XM Sirius Radio Doctor Channel. She has spoken at national and international conferences and a Capitol Hill briefing, and is an expert in pet obesity, nutrition communication, and in the human-animal bond. 

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