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Happy New Year! Happy New Pet! 

For some of you, the Holidays meant a new pet in the household. For many more, another season of happiness with your current pets. But how do you know if Fido indulged 'til he bulged this year? Or if Fluffy is just a little too, well, fluffy?

The best way to tell if a pet is overweight is a three step test:

1) rib rub: With Fluffy or Fido standing in front of you, try to feel for his/her ribs and pelvic bone. You should be able to count each rib, with only skin and a small amount of fat over each one.

2) tummy tuck: Does his/her tummy 'tuck' upwards? Look at your pet from the side. You should be able to see a strong definition between where the ribcage ends and where the tummy goes upwards.

3) hourglass figure: Straddle your pet while s/he is standing. For long-haired pets, smooth down the fur. Do you see a sharp definition, like an hourglass, from ribcage to pelvis?

See the illustrations below for reference.

(Images courtesy of UNH Veterinary Program)

If your pet failed the above tests, s/he is most likely overweight. With the rise in pet obesity, this is a (pardon the pun) growing epidemic! Overweight animals are at higher risk for health issues such as diabetes, heart troubles, and other organ failure.

But, what are some ways to get your pet down to a normal weight? Check with your veterinarian if your pet has previous health issues, but for most pets (and humans, for that matter!), cutting calories and increasing exercise are two great ways to start. Consider additional playtoys for your kitty or dog, including ones that are interactive with you and your family. Cut out high-fat treats for sure, and consider metering out food in small meals throughout the day instead of one large meal in the morning or evening.

By now, the 68% of Americans who have made New Year's Resolutions to 'lose weight' or 'get back in shape' have left them by the wayside. Why not take this opportunity to get back on track by walking Fido daily? Not only will it make a happy, healthier pet, it will make a happy, healthier you!

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