Studies have shown that a pet’s body weight can affect its lifespan as much as two whole years.
So, what is the ideal weight for your pet? No pet is the same because no breed is the same, and mixed breeds leave more questions than there are answers. So veterinarians have come up with a Body Condition Score, or BCS, to help pet owners understand their pet’s weight.
This score is measured by a physical evaluation of your pet and it is something you can easily do at home.
Here is what to look for if you think your dog is losing too much weight
Ribs – Rub your hands down your dog’s rib cage. You should be able to feel the ribs. The ribs should not be protruding or hidden under layers of fat.
Waistline – Look at your pet from above. If your pet is at a healthy weight you will see a dip at the waist, like an hourglass. That slight dip is healthy. Your pet should not resemble a potato or a sausage. If there is no dip, you may want to consider diet changes and an exercise routine.
Tummy – Now look at your pet from the side. Their tummy should not hang rounded and low. Instead, you should be able to see the curve of their sternum and then, their tummy should slope and tuck into their hips.
A healthy weight is important to all breeds.
However, there is a special mention to those squat, short-legged dogs like the Dachshund, Beagle, and Corgi. The breeds with short legs and long backs tend to have a harder time with the extra weight. Their spine cannot handle extra weight at all, so it is critical to keep them fit and moderately active.
If you see that there has been a change in your dog’s bodyweight there are some questions below that you should consider.
Have there been any lifestyle changes?
If your pet is gaining weight could they have experienced less activity than normal? Here at Space Coast, we get it, when the days get busy and the nights get longer it makes it difficult to always stay active. The winter months are notorious for adding extra baggage to everyone in the family. So, if your pet has been more sedentary lately it is a good possibility he has put on unwanted weight.
Luckily there are a lot of activities you can do together to get things under control. A 20-minute walk can work wonders for your pet’s waistline, and your mood. Playing fetch in the backyard can also clear away the cobwebs.
It is not an exact science, because we cannot ask a dog how he feels, but it is accepted knowledge that dogs get depression too. So movement is good.
Of course, you can always leave the mood-boosting weight-controlling exercise to us here at Space Coast Pet Services. Since we are professional dog walkers, we know a thing or two about walking dogs.
But there is more; the body condition score scale goes up and down for a reason.
What if your pet is losing weight?
There are a few reasons your pet could be losing weight that does not cause concern. Perhaps your pet had a few extra pounds worth losing. Once warmer weather comes around it is natural to shed a bit of weight. But it could be other reasons as well.
Is your pet aging? Pets reach the geriatric age around 8 years of life. At this point, muscle atrophy is common and the body makes up the muscle energy it is losing by burning body fat. Typically this happens over time, but we rarely notice it. So it may seem as though the weight loss was rapid. But your pet may not be old.
Do you have a puppy? Just like with children, puppies chunk up, and then grow taller. During this rapid growth, your pup may look a little leaner. An extra scoop of puppy food or extra nutritious treats will give your furkid the energy they need to stay active and strong.
Finally, parasites are another possibility your pet could be losing weight. Both fleas and intestinal parasites can cause weight loss in a dog. You see worms a lot on puppies, but older dogs get them too. Fleas steal a dog’s blood making them anemic. A monthly flea pill and deworming medication are recommended as prevention.
When should you seek veterinary care for your dog’s weight?
Ideally, you should take your pet to the vet every six months for a general checkup. That may seem like a lot, but consider the lifespan of your pet and a whole year is substantial. If you have noticed that your pet has gained some weight and you have tried diet changes, and exercise with no luck, then it may be time to speak with your pup’s doctor.
Physical ailments can cause weight fluctuations. For example, conditions with the thyroid can cause both weight loss and weight gain. The same symptom shows with diabetes and heart failure. If a younger dog loses weight rapidly, check for missing toys or any items that have been chewed up and possibly ingested. All of those ailments are reasons for concern, and nothing you can control. So if you are concerned your pet is losing too much weight, it is best to speak with a professional.
Healthy Choices for Life
It is important to find what works best for you and your pet, remember just like us, your pets require movement and good nutrition. Finding the right diet and exercise routine for your furkid does not have to be difficult or confusing. By forming collaborations with other people who are dedicated to the life of your pet you will find most suggestions are easy to understand and follow.
One of the easiest health routines you can start at any time is giving your dog a walk. This simple routine sounds like a no-brainer, but life gets busy and you are not a bad pet parent if it has been a while since the last one. This one practice works the mind and the body. When either is at rest for too long it has a negative impact. By implementing a daily dog walk you will be elevating your dog’s energy and focus. The movement fires up their body, and the change of scenery gives them visual stimulation. By working those key areas their weight is more likely to stay within a healthy range.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight consistently will put you in the best position to notice fluctuations in weight objectively.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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