|Waiting for dinner.|
As a veterinarian I give a whole lot of advice. It's my job after all, educating, treating, advocating, and assisting people to learn about their pets needs. These needs are multifaceted complex and evolving. It is one of the many reasons I love being a veterinarian.
Today's subject is assessing your pets waistline. We often use the description of your pets waistline to describe assessing your pets weight. A defined waist is one of the ways we determine optimal body condition score. When assessing whether a pet is overweight we use the top and side view of the body profile. We want to see a taper at the waist when viewed from above and from the side. Here is a very good chart from Hills to help identify your pets body condition score (BCS).
Even as I stand in the examination room discussing a pets examination findings I sometimes get caught in the ever sticky predicament of having to admit that the advice I am giving isn't always the advice I am adhering too.
As my grandmother used to say, "Do as I say, not as I do." (In the spirit of full disclosure this was always in reference to her chronic consistent chain smoking, something that neither I nor my pets do).
When I received a request from uber-blogger Jana Rade, whose amazing blog can be found at http://dawgbusiness.blogspot.com/, or on Twitter @DawgBlogger, I thought "OK, time to put my money where my mouth is." She asked me to complete the mini dawg blog survey to "Show Off My Dogs Waistline" campaign.
So here it goes:
Exhibit A, Savannah, my 16 year old beagle mix. She has lost much of the muscle mass in her rear legs over the last two years, and we struggle to keep her active, mobile, happy, continent, and ambulatory. She has difficulty keeping standing when eating or drinking, and can no longer get up stairs, or sometimes even onto her 5 inch high bed. She has moved from her 5 inch high bed basket to the bed on the floor. Even the bed on the floor gets 'missed' sometimes. I usually find her close to the bed, but either partially in, or almost on it.
As a true beagle she spent most of her life pushing the bulging waistline. She has always been, and remains, very highly food motivated. Keeping her at a healthy weight was a challenge until she approached 13 years old. Thankfully she still loves to eat a snack and we keep her on a very high quality dog food. She eats twice a day, gets a few good quality snacks in between, and is kept warm, visible, and safe if outside. Managing a geriatric pet is a challenge. Keeping her happy and healthy is a combination of good advice, persistence, and being flexible with your plan. I advise my clients with geriatric pets to keep a little bit of meat on the bones so that if they get challenged by a disease or illness they have a bit of fat on reserves. Also, we want to maintain lean body mass, not fat, but muscle on these guys. Keeping them active and ambulatory is the only way to maintain muscle mass. It is the aging challenge for all of us. There are many little tricks to try, monitor eating every meal and every day, and any amount of unplanned weight loss in an older dog is reason to go see your vet immediately.
|Side View of Savannah.|
|Top view, note her back legs are splayed in front of her, and she is barely on her bed.|
Exhibit B, Charleston. My three year old pit bull mix. He is built like a pit bull, thick, long, and muscular. He is inside with me most of the winter. Snuggled on his bed, hibernating with his brother until the spring erupts, when they both hit the fields in search of trouble. He, like me, is a bit softer and rounder in the winter then we, (oops, I mean he) is in the height of swim suit season. (I promise we both will be leaner, lighter, tighter, and trimmer in June. I'll post an updated picture of his waistline and use it as the reference for us both then).
|Side view of Charlie.|
|Top view of Charlie.|
Exhibit C, Jekyll, the three year old beagle. He is a powerhouse. He has to be. He is Charleston's best friend, wrestling buddy, and refuses to let his long legged pittie brother get the best of him. Where Charleston is fast and has an elegant antelope stride, Jekyll is the torpedo-like bullet. I call him the sand bag. If he wasn't so strong, round, and solid Charleston would have broken him years ago. He has the stop, drop, and roll while Charleston plows over him like a master stunt-dog on their daily rumble-run-and-play sessions. All of my veterinary and non-veterinary friends think that my little Jekyll is fat. And here I go sounding just like my guilty clients I persistently reply, "He is not! He is solid, strong, muscular, athletic, and he has short little legs." (Sigh of slight admonition....)
|Jekyll side view.|
|Jekyll from the top.|
In my defense, my puppies (Charlie and Jekyll) run four miles with me 3-4 times a week in the winter and 5-6 times in the summer. They are very active pups and on a high quality commercially available diet. I monitor their waistline, muscle mass, coat, teeth, nails, ears, joints, mobility, gait, mentation, eating, urinating, and defecation habits daily. I know that a slim waistline is very important. It is a critical part of overall health. My two beagles have some weight challenges, they are after all beagles, and beagles LIVE for food, but I have also provided them lots of exercise, a very good diet, minimal treats, and measured amounts of food. I would say that the pups are BCS 3/5, Jek pushes 4/5 but he is all muscle, and Savannah is 2-3/5, she is what we vets call sarcopenic which is a loss of lean body mass that occurs with aging.
If you are concerned that your pet has a large waistline, or if you ever have any questions about any aspect of your pets health sit down with your vet to discuss them. There are often important medical reasons that can cause or contribute to your pets appearance, and there are many ways to help identify what is contributing to their BCS. We have advice to help get and keep your pet in tip-top shape and keep them there.
|"Oh mom, wake us up when it's summer!"|