I typically consider all of my spaces, including this website, official diet-free zones. There is a lot of rhetoric out there and I am usually the first person to shut down any talk of body-size. Yes, I talk about exercising and getting out and being active, but this has nothing to do with trying to achieve a certain weight. Not for me, anyway. That line of thinking is pretty dangerous on a personal level and I just won’t go there. Regardless, I am shoving my internal misgivings aside to broach the unfriendly topic for an important cause.
Today I am participating in the Dawg Business “Show Off Your Dog’s Waistline Campaign”. Blogger Jana Rade came up with the concept to raise positive awareness of the importance of weight management for our pets. With all the recent media around unfortunately overweight cats and dogs and with the numbers rising every year – especially for cats – I do think it is a serious topic for our animal companions. So many websites love to poke fun. Images of fat cats parade through Internet memes and commercials. They are all presented as an amusement, a hilarious “Garfield” stereotype.
In reality, joking about an overweight dog is about as funny as joking about an emaciated one. They are both worthy of concern.
In Jana’s post she shared a graphic showing the basic “Body Condition Scores” of dogs and cats. I’ve seen these charts before and many find them a useful way of gauging their dog’s health based on body size. According to the graphic, the ideal animal should have a score of 3 out of 5, ribs can be felt, and there is a slight waist when viewed from above.
It might just be my own dragons breathing fire on my brain, but I’ve personally found it difficult comparing my own pets with the images on the charts. Real dogs and cats have muscles and fur and legs that stick out in weird places. I have a lot of trouble deciding where exactly Shiva fits in. Looking at her from the side she looks like the first dog yet when I look at her from the top she is more of a number three. Given that I’ve always been told by random strangers on the street that Shiva is much too thin, I don’t know how to read this.
So, in other words, I decided to join in Jana’s Campaign for primarily selfish reasons: I really want to know if I am the only one who struggles understanding these things.
It was a lot harder getting Shiva to pose for a picture than I thought it would be. Maybe because I took it right after I got home from work but I couldn’t get her to stand still. None of the photos give a truly good idea of what her waist looks like. In the end, I had to put a peanut butter cracker on the floor in front of her to get her to quit wiggling. Does that defeat the purpose of a weight-related challenge?
The Cat was surprisingly easier to photograph. Of course, his general poofiness makes it hard to actually see his waist so I tried to show it with a hand. This displeased him immensely so again I had to pull out a treat. I am not worried in the least about his weight as he has weighed the same for years. He is a large cat with a lot of fur but there isn’t one bit of fat on his body. We keep his bowl full and he eats when he’s hungry.
I don’t know. I think it comes down to trusting your instincts. If your dog or cat is developing new health issues or has less energy than before, you might want to check with your veterinarian. Really your vet has probably been monitoring your pet’s weight anyway. If he or she hasn’t brought it up, you might be fine.
Dogs are individuals. As I said to a friend on Twitter earlier today, what is ideal for Shiva may not be ideal for your dog, and vice versa. If your dog is still running around after the ball for hours on end or if your cat is still chasing invisible mice at three in the morning (yes, felines get zoomies too) then you probably don’t have to worry. When in doubt, ask a veterinarian. I think that’s all anyone can do.