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According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, over half of our nations cats and dogs were obese in 2015. This has become such a problem that the veterinary community has adopted a special day in October for pet obesity awareness and education. I thought it was timely to highlight this issue going into summer because many of us are tempted to feed our pets in excess during these months of barbecues, graduation parties, camping trips and other special celebratory events. Our pets are always game for table scraps! Hopefully during the summer we and our pets are able to be outside more frequently burning off those extra calories.

Perhaps this doesn’t surprise us considering the human obesity problem in our nation, but unlike the American Medical Association for humans, the veterinary community has yet to develop a standardized scoring system for determining whether a pet is overweight. The terms overweight and obese are not agreed upon either and the treatments vary depending upon which category your pet falls under.

Remember your pet’s quality of life is significantly impacted by those seemingly small treats. The energy, pain level and attitude level of an overweight pet will be affected by their condition. Sometimes it’s difficult for owners to determine whether their pet is overweight or obese. Check out this link for help in determining whether your pet is overweight. A quick way to check for this is to feel for ribs and other bony prominences. If you can see your pet’s ribs they may need to gain weight. You should be able to feel your pets ribs and hip joints and not have to press in through a thick layer of tissue. Do remember that depending on the breed, a thinner or thicker appearance may be considered healthy. If you ever have any questions ask your vet during a check up and they will be able to give you a better idea of an appropriate weight.


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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.