By: Dr. Jessica Groeneweg, DVM
Weight in our animals is very important. Many people don’t realize what an actual healthy weight for their pet should be. Every pet is different. Just like humans, weight isn’t going to be the same across the board, so it is important to look at your pet in terms of body fat percentage instead of pounds. Your veterinarian is going to assess your pet in terms of their “body condition score”, which looks at how much fat sits over their ribs and how much of a waist they have.
Why is weight so important?
Fat, or adipose tissue, has many functions, both good and bad. Some of the good things that adipose tissue does, include energy storage and insulation. Fat releases some enzymes that function in insulin sensitivity, inflammation, appetite, and metabolism. One enzyme from adipose tissue works on the satiety part of the body and tries to increase weight loss. It’s the body’s way of trying to regulate itself.
However, the more fat that a pet accumulates, the harder it is for the good things to regulate the body. Too much fat causes higher inflammatory cytokines in the body and also causes higher strain on joints, with higher risks of arthritis or cruciate tears. Too much fat can also lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. Obesity has also been found to cause a higher risk for cancer, respiratory issues, endocrine disease, skin diseases, and so much more.
Good nutrition and regular exercise are vital to keeping a healthy amount of fat on your animal. Please ask your veterinarian for more information on what a good weight for your pet is, and how to keep them healthier.