What Is My Pet’s Ideal Weight?
There is a question we are frequently asked by owners: ‘what is the ideal weight for my Labrador/Burmese/Moggie?’ Your pet’s weight is an important indicator of health – not only in the present, but perhaps more importantly in the future. Our clients understand this and want to be sure they are doing the right thing by their companions. Determining an ideal weight is the first step upon the path to life-long good health, and we are always available to help answer the question.
As with humans, our furry companions run a higher risk of developing health problems as their waistline expands. One of the most prevalent and arguably most debilitating of these is joint stress, leading to decreased mobility and painful osteoarthritis. Another is decreased insulin sensitivity and consequently diabetes, especially in our feline friends. These conditions are manageable but have a significant impact on your companion’s quality, and often length, of life.
All pet owners want their loved ones to live a long and healthy life as free of pain as possible, which is where we come back to the question. ‘How much should Fergus/Minnie/Oscar weigh?’ Every animal has an ideal weight dependent on breed, gender, age, height, and proportions. Unfortunately there is no ‘magic number’ that we can give you based simply on breed. What we can give you is a set of simple guidelines that allow you at any time (and without scales) to assess whether or not your pet is a healthy weight.
The method that we use is called Body Condition Scoring (BCS). It is a rating system from 1-5 using some simple visual and touch-cues, with 3 being an ideal rating. BCS is the preferred method for determining ideal weight within veterinary clinics because it takes into account all of the individual factors that make your loved one unique: the heavy, fluffy, flappy ears; the adorably round, hard head; that surprisingly large but cuddly ribcage. The next time you look at your furry friend and wonder whether they could stand to gain or lose a little, remember these four easy steps.
- 1. Rub their ribs
You should be able to easily feel – but not see! – each rib under a layer of tissue.
- 2. Watch their waist
A nice hourglass shape is ideal.
- 3. Tuck their tummy
The abdomen should tuck up into the groin in a neat curve.
- 4. Handle their hips
As with the ribs, you should be able to feel the points of their hips easily underneath a layer of tissue.
Above is a pictorial representation of the BCS system ratings. Being able to visualise the difference between a 2, a 3, and a 4 makes the process easier. Even better, when you have reached an ideal weight for your companion be sure to take lots of photos! You will be able to directly compare your loved one’s current weight to their ideal weight for years to come.
As always, if you are looking for a second opinion your local vet clinic is always happy to help, and we have a range of diet foods available to help you reach and maintain that ideal weight. This includes an exciting new Hills product named Metabolic. Unlike most weight loss food, Metabolic does not rely on strict calorie regulation. This makes it much easier to use for those of us who cringe in sympathy when placing what seems like a meagre supper in front of hungry eyes! Metabolic is formulated to work with your animal’s metabolism, to ‘turn on’ the genes found in slimmer animals. If it were a human product, the tagline would be: ‘Eat Yourself Skinny’. Ask in clinic if you think Metabolic may be right for your loved one.