Treat pet’s ‘COVID-15’ with diet, exercise

Q: A friend was telling me that she and her Lab had both gained weight over the last year, calling it “the COVID-15.” Seriously, is that a real thing? W.S., Farragut

A: Yes, I have heard this term at my office and have noticed that some of our patients have gained weight during the pandemic. Some owners are still working remotely and admit to giving more daily snacks, or simply being more sedentary with their pet.

Veterinarians are often asked how to tell if their pet is overweight. Because of the great differences in sizes and breeds of dogs, we use some generalities to gauge ideal weight (instead of the human BMI scale). If you stand behind or above your pet, you should be able to see a waist. Pet owners should be able to feel his or her ribs easily, but not see them. Neither dogs nor cats should have a rounded or enlarged abdomen.

If you think your pet is overweight, see your veterinarian to rule out medical problems, such as hypothyroidism. Your veterinarian can also help you set a target weight for your pet and plan a safe diet and exercise program. As we have all heard, less calories and more exercise are ultimately necessary for weight loss.

It does take time and effort to help your pet be healthy and stay healthy. Walks with your pet can be great bonding time. And with fall around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start exercising with your pet in beautiful East Tennessee.