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Pet obesity

Pet obesity

Over 40% of dogs and over 30% of cats in New Zealand are at least 10% over their ideal weight, classing them as overweight or obese*

If you answer yes to any of the below questions your pet may be at risk of obesity and we highly recommend you talk to your veterinarian about a weight management program.

  • Is it difficult to feel their individual ribs?
  • Do they have little or no defined waist?
  • Are they feed table scraps such as the crusts off your toast or left overs?
  • Do they refuse to or are they disinterested in exercise and play?
  • Will they keep eating until all food is gone or regularly steal other pet's food?

Dog BFI (Body Fat Index) risk chart

20
Low Risk

16-25% Body Fat

30
Mild Risk

26-35% Body Fat

40
Moderate Risk

36-45% Body Fat

50
Serious Risk

46-55% Body Fat

60
Severe Risk

56-65% Body Fat

70
Extreme Risk

>65% Body Fat

Ribs
Minimal fat cover. Prominent bony structures.

Shape from above
Well proportioned lumbar waist.

Shape from the side
Abdominal tuck present.

Shape from behind
Clear muscle definition, smooth contour.

Tail base bones
Slightly prominent. Easily felt.

Tail base fat
Thin fat cover.

Ribs 
Slight fat cover. Defined bony structures.

Shape from above
Detectable lumbar waist.

Shape from the side
Slight abdominal tuck.

Shape from behind
Losing muscle definition, rounded appearance.

Tail base bones
Slightly to not prominent. Can be felt.

Tail base fat
Moderate fat cover.

Ribs
Slight to moderate fat cover. Defined to slight bony structures.

Shape from above
Loss of lumbar waist, broadened back.

Shape from the side
Flat to bulging abdomen.

Shape from behind
Rounded to square appearance.

Tail base bones
Not prominent. Very difficult to feel.

Tail base fat
Thick fat cover. May have a small fat dimple.

Ribs
Moderate fat cover. Slight to minimal bony structures.

Shape from above
Markedly broadened back.

Shape from the side
Marked abdominal bulge.

Shape from behind
Square appearance.

Tail base bones
Not prominent. Extremely difficult to feel.

Tail base fat
Very thick fat cover. Fat dimple or fold present.

Ribs
Thick fat cover. Minimal to no bony structures.

Shape from above
Extremely broadened back.

Shape from the side
Severe abdominal bulge.

Shape from behind
Square appearance.

Tail base bones
Not prominent. Impossible to feel.

Tail base fat
Extremely thick fat cover. Large fat dimple or fat fold.

Ribs
Very thick fat cover. No bony structures.

Shape from above
Extremely broadened back, bulging mid-section.

Shape from the side
Very severe abdominal bulge.

Shape from behind
Irregular or upside down pear shape.

Tail base bones
Unidentifiable.

Tail base fat
Extremely thick fat cover. Large fat folds or pads.

Cat BFI (Body Fat Index) risk chart

20
Low Risk

16-25% Body Fat

30
Mild Risk

26-35% Body Fat

40
Moderate Risk

36-45% Body Fat

50
Serious Risk

46-55% Body Fat

60
Severe Risk

56-65% Body Fat

70
Extreme Risk

>65% Body Fat

Face
Minimal fat cover. Prominent bony structures.

Head and neck
Prominent distinction between head and shoulder. Loose scruff. No scruff fat.

Sternum
Prominent. Very easy to palpate. Minimal pectoral fat.

Scapula
Prominent. Very easy to palpate.

Ribs
Prominent. Very easy to palpate.

Abdomen
Loose abdominal skin. Easy to palpate abdominal contents.

Tail base
Prominent bony structure. Easy to palpate. Minimal fat cover.

Shape from the side
Moderate to slight abdominal tuck.

Shape from above
Marked hourglass.

Face 
Slight fat cover. Defined bony structures.

Head and neck
Clear distinction between head and shoulder. Loose scruff. Slight scruff fat.

Sternum
Defined, slightly prominent. Easy to palpate. Slight to moderate pectoral fat.

Scapula
Defined, slightly prominent. Easy / very easy to palpate.

Ribs
Not prominent. Easy to palpate.

Abdomen
Loose abdominal skin with minimal fat. Easy to palpate abdominal contents.

Tail base
Slightly to minimally prominent bony structure. Palpable. Slight fat cover.

Shape from the side
No abdominal tuck.

Shape from above
Slight hourglass / lumbar waist.

Face 
Slight to moderate fat cover. Defined to slight bony structures.

Head and neck
Clear to slight distinction between head and shoulder. Loose to snug scruff. Slight to moderate scruff fat.

Sternum
Minimally prominent. Palpable. Moderate pectoral fat.

Scapula
Slightly prominent. Easy to palpate.

Ribs
Not prominent. Palpable.

Abdomen
Obvious skin fold with moderate fat. Easy to palpate abdominal contents.

Tail base
Minimally prominent bony structure. Palpable. Slight to moderate fat cover.

Shape from the side
Slight abdominal bulge.

Shape from above
Lumbar waist.

Face 
Moderate fat cover. Slight to minimal bony structures.

Head and neck
Minimal distinction between head and shoulder. Loose to snug scruff. Moderate scruff fat.

Sternum
Minimally prominent. Palpable. Moderate pectoral fat.

Scapula
Minimally to not prominent. Difficult to palpate.

Ribs
Not prominent. Difficult to palpate.

Abdomen
Heavy fat pad. Difficult to palpate abdominal contents.

Tail base
Poorly defined bony structure. Difficult to palpate. Moderate to thick fat cover.

Shape from the side
Moderate abdominal bulge.

Shape from above
Broadened back.

Face 
Thick fat cover. Minimal to no bony structures.

Head and neck
Poor to no distinction between head and shoulder. Snug to tight scruff. Very thick scruff fat.

Sternum
Not prominent. Extremely difficult to palpate. Extremely thick pectoral fat.

Scapula
Not prominent. Difficult to palpate.

Ribs
Not prominent. Extremely difficult to impossible to palpate.

Abdomen
Very heavy fat pad; indistinct from abdominal fat. Impossible to palpate abdominal contents.

Tail base
Bony structure not prominent. Very difficult to palpate. Very thick fat cover.

Shape from the side
Severe abdominal bulge.

Shape from above
Severely broadened back.

Face 
Very thick fat cover. No bony structures.

Head and neck
No distinction between head and shoulder. Tight scruff. Very thick scruff fat.

Sternum
Not prominent. Impossible to palpate. Extreme pectoral fat.

Scapula
Not prominent. Impossible to palpate.

Ribs
Not prominent. Impossible to palpate.

Abdomen
Extremely heavy fat pad; indistinct from abdominal fat. Impossible to palpate abdominal contents.

Tail base
Bony structure not prominent. Extremely difficult to palpate. Extremely thick fat cover.

Shape from the side
Very severe abdominal bulge.

Shape from above
Extremely broadened back.

Causes

Just as it can do in humans, weight gain can creep up on your pet; particularly in cats who can be sneaky in pretending that they haven't already eaten.

The main reasons for an excessive weight gain in pets are; excessive amounts of food given daily, excessive treats or low exercise levels. Due to pets small size only a small increase in food can tip their calorie intake over the balance and can result in weight gain.

Your pet can also be at additional risk as they age, as their metabolic rate and exercise levels usually decrease, and certain breeds are also more predisposed to weight gain (such as Labradors), as are pets which have been neutered.

How to determine your cat's ideal weight

Current weight (kg)Ideal Body weight (kg)
20% Body Fat30% Body Fat40% Body Fat50% Body Fat60% Body Fat70% Body Fat









3 3.0 2.6 2.3 1.9 1.5 1.4
3.5 3.5 3.1 2.6 2.2 1.8 1.5
4 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.7
4.5 4.5 3.9 3.4 2.8 2.3 1.9
5 5.0 4.4 3.8 3.1 2.5 2.0
5.5 5.5 4.8 4.1 3.4 2.8 2.2
6 6.0 5.3 4.5 3.8 3.0 2.4
6.5 6.5 5.7 4.9 4.1 3.3 2.6
7 7.0 6.1 5.3 4.4 3.5 2.7
7.5 7.5 6.6 5.6 4.7 3.8 2.9
8 8.0 7.0 6.0 5.0 4.0 3.1
8.5 8.5 7.4 6.4 5.3 4.3 3.2
9 9.0 7.9 6.8 5.6 4.5 3.4
9.5 9.5 8.3 7.1 5.9 4.8 3.6
10 10.0 8.8 7.5 6.3 5.0 3.7

How to determine your dog's ideal weight

Current weight (kg)Ideal Body weight (kg)
20% Body Fat30% Body Fat40% Body Fat50% Body Fat60% Body Fat70% Body Fat
5 5.0 4.4 3.8 3.1 2.5 1.9
6 6.0 5.3 4.5 3.8 3.0 2.3
7 7.0 6.1 5.3 4.4 3.5 2.6
8 8.0 7.0 6.0 5.0 4.0 3.0
9 9.0 7.9 6.8 5.6 4.5 3.4
10 10.0 8.8 7.5 6.3 5.0 3.8
12 12.0 10.5 9.0 7.5 6.0 4.5
6.5 6.5 5.7 4.9 4.1 3.3 2.6
14 14.0 12.3 10.5 8.8 7.0 5.3
16 16.0 14.0 12.0 10.0 8.0 6.0
18 18.0 15.8 13.5 11.3 9.0 6.8
8.5 8.5 7.4 6.4 5.3 4.3 3.2
20 20.0 17.5 15.0 12.5 10.0 7.5
22 22.0 19.3 16.5 13.8 11.0 8.3
24 24.0 21.0 18.0 15.0 12.0 9.0
26 26.0 22.8 19.5 16.3 13.0 9.8
28 28.0 24.5 21.0 17.5 14.0 10.5
30 30.0 26.3 22.5 18.8 15.0 11.3
33 33.0 28.9 24.8 20.6 16.5 12.4
36 36.0 31.5 27.0 22.5 18.0 13.5
39 39.0 34.1 29.3 24.4 19.5 14.6
42 42.0 36.8 31.5 26.3 21.0 15.8
45.0 45.0 39.4 33.8 28.1 22.5 16.9

Health risks

  • Shortened life span
  • Increased risk of joint and mobility difficulties
  • Skin conditions and lower resistance to infections
  • Greater risk to complications during surgery
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Higher risk or neurological, respiratory or reproductive disorders

Solution

If you have concerns for your pet, we highly recommend visiting your local clinic, and read our recommendations below as a starting point.

Helping your pet lose weight is a slow process that requires a long term commitment and lifestyle changes. It can take two months to see a difference in a pet's weight so it is important to set long term goals and have a weigh-in every two weeks to keep on track.

Engage your pet in active play for at least 10 minutes twice a dayChanging behaviours will play a big role in ensuring your pet lives a healthier lifestyle long-term. Try supplementing food treat rewards as with showing affection with something they enjoy e.g. a 5 minute session of playing, brushing or patting.

To help manage their weight you should have your pet on a low calorie and high fibre diet; your veterinarian will be able to recommend the right food for your pet's specific needs. A regular feed twice a day is recommended, with the specific amounts of food per feed for your pet's weight (note; a lot of food packs provide a daily requirement). We also recommend that your engage your pet in active play for at least 10 minutes twice a day and make sure your pooch doesn't miss their daily walk.

Ensuring you have the right weight-management plan for your pet is critical to maintaining a healthy weight for your pet and the health benefits are invaluable to their over all health and well being. If you have any concerns or questions be sure to contact your local Animates Vetcare clinic for advice.

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