Q. How do I know if my pet is overweight?
DANA KOCH, VMD, MLAS
A. There are many ways to determine if your pet is overweight: breed standards, body condition score (BCS), body fat index (BFI), and morphometric measurements. These tools are used to determine how overweight a pet is, as well as to determine how much to feed to reach the pet’s ideal weight. Most weight loss programs fail because food dose calculations are based on inaccurate estimations of ideal body weight.
Current methods of estimating ideal body weight (body condition score/ guessing) are most likely to underestimate % body fat and therefore overestimate ideal weight, which leads to overfeeding. Pets are being overdosed on food because of inaccurate estimations of ideal body weight.
To determine body condition score it's often helpful to have a scale from 1-5 to compare to: http://www.hillspet.com/weight-management/pet-weight-score.html. This scale is based on your ability to feel or see the ribs, the size of your dog or cat's waist, and the appearance of the abdomen.
An overweight animal can be predisposed to several health conditions including high blood pressure, arthritis, endocrine disorders such as diabetes, and hypothyroidism. This is why it is important to determine an ideal weight for your pet and work hard to maintain a healthy weight.