Chances are, you probably don’t think much of your pet’s weight check at the vet’s office. Your pet is just placed on a scale and the vet jots down a number, right? The truth is, the weight check is an important part of a veterinary visit and an animal’s weight can be a helpful indicator of overall health.
Most vets will weigh pets on the scale in addition to visually assessing the body condition. Body condition scoring typically ranges from 1 to 9, 1 being extremely thin and 9 being obese. A body condition score of 5 represents an optimal weight. For pets that are an ideal weight, you should be able to feel, but not see, the ribs. For pets that are underweight, the ribs, vertebrae, and hip bones may be visible. For overweight pets, it may be difficult to feel the ribs and a defined waist is not visible from above.
Any unexplained weight loss could be an early indicator of cancer, diabetes, feline hyperthyroidism, or kidney disease. Weight gain could potentially be the result of an endocrine condition. Sudden changes in weight will likely be assessed by your pet’s veterinarian to see if an underlying condition is to blame.
If your pet has gained a significant amount of weight and no underlying health concerns are present, the veterinarian will likely discuss a weight loss plan with you. Overweight pets are at an increased risk for arthritis, heart disease, and other conditions.