Pet Obesity: A Guide to Keeping Your Pet at a Healthy Weight

While a chubby pet may appear to be cute and cuddly, the reality is that portly pets are more at risk for health issues, and sadly, a shortened lifespan. The increase in human weight has paved the way for our pets to follow and pet obesity appears to be on the rise.

Why Is Healthy Weight So Important for Pets?

Excess fat contributes to a wide array of animal health issues. Obesity strains your pet physically in every sense whether, heart, lungs, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This will make your pet want to move even less due to exhaustion and discomfort complicating an already dangerous health condition.

When our furry family members pack on pounds, they increase their risk for several serious health issues including:

  • Ambulatory issues
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Heart disease
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver Problems
  • Orthopedic injuries such as ligament tears
  • Respiratory Difficulties
  • Skin and fur coat issues because of a lack of self-grooming

Apart from all the problems associated with weight-related diseases, the pets themselves experience reduced quality of life. Movement can be painful and prohibitive, and pets live shorter lives. 

Healthy choices are a great method for contrasting pet obesity, and you can make them to the benefit of your pet.

Is My Pet a Healthy Weight?

Aside from weighing your pet, an alternative method is to feel around your pet’s gut while they are in a standing position. Ribs and the animal’s spine should be easily felt and a minimal bit of fat should be present. The animal’s stomach should slope upward. This should also be visible when your pet is viewed from the side. Stomachs should not hang. If your dog or cat looks like a solid tube with no shape, then your pet Is probably too heavy. 

What Causes My Pet to Gain Weight?

Factors that contribute to weight gains in pets are the same as the principal causes in human weight gain:

  • Lack of physical activity or exercise
  • Overeating and excessive calorie intake
  • Aging
  • Mobility issues
  • Medical conditions

While some of these factors are beyond our control, a few important ones, like eating and exercise, are not.

Food and Feeding

When feeding your pet, his or her calorie intake needs to be equal to or less to the number of calories he or she burns daily. If your pet is overweight, you can opt for a weight management dog or cat food that will have increased amounts of fiber so there is a feeling of “fullness” while containing fewer calories. You can also reduce the amount of food you give. 

Once your pet has lost excess weight, you can switch to a healthy weight management food product.

You can schedule your pet’s meal to coincide with your mealtime.  If you feed your pet more than once a day, divide the total number of daily calories into the number of meals you give. Do not leave food out. If your pet leaves food, remove it.

Consider food allergies or intolerances that can contribute to weight issues. Your pet may do better with what is known as the ancestor diet such as provided by These diets replicate the carnivorous natural diets that dogs and cats ate before domestication so they contain primarily protein and natural herbs. 

How Can I Get My Pet to Lose Weight?

There are several ways for you to reduce your pet’s weight:

  • Gradually increase physical activity and exercise. Do not rush to get your pet up and running. Any increase in physical activity should be slow.
  • Reduce edible treats to a minimum substituting them with other options or picking treats that contain a minimal number of calories.
  • Reduce the quantity of food that you are feeding.
  • Use a weight-loss pet food that will reduce calorie intake while integrating ingredients that make your pet feel fuller.

If you are committed to reducing your pet’s weight, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations as to how much weight needs to be lost and how quickly.

Tips for Keeping Your Pet at a Healthy Weight

  • Ask your veterinarian for an appropriate diet with portion size and follow your vet’s recommendation to the letter.
  • Feed your pet quality dog food at the same time every day.
  • No feeding from the table. People-food contributes to weight gain.
  • Do not indulge your pet with treats. Rather substitute food treats with attention, praise, toys, and games. Do not give in to pleading eyes and begging.
  • Dedicate time daily for a walk or exercise through play. Get your pet up and moving. Your pet should be involved in physical activity for at least a half-hour every day.
  • Schedule regular follow-up visits with your vet if your pet is on a weight loss plan. Assess weight, nutrition, and eventual health issues at regular intervals to monitor progress and make adjustments as necessary.

While it may be difficult to refuse that pleading look from your beloved pet, stick to the program to ensure that your fur baby enjoys a long and healthy life with you.