For a cat or a dog, being over or underweight can have just as many negative health implications as for a human being. Shorter overall lifespan is probably the most obvious and concerning effect of weight problems for our pets.
There are differing schools of thought regarding the best way to gauge your pet’s ideal weight. You can go by a chart, which is most useful if your pet is a purebred. Or you can use a method that many veterinarians are using themselves. It’s called the Body Condition System, and it advocates judging a pet’s ideal weight on a case by case basis.
There are separate methods for cats and dogs. The system for both, however, is similar: each animal is visually inspected and then examined by hand to determine their place on the system’s scale, which goes from 1 (underweight) to 9 (obese). Somewhere in the middle is ideal.
Some studies indicate that about half of our cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight. In addition to bringing on disease such as diabetes and arthritis, letting our pets be overweight can reduce the number of years we have to spend with them. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to gauge where your pet needs to be for a healthy, happy lifestyle so that you can adjust their diet and exercise accordingly.