Overweight Dogs and Cats

Overweight Dogs and Cats
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vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Being overweight can not only make pets uncomfortable and make it difficult for them to get around, it can lead to serious health issues. Learn how to manage this growing problem.

When your cat or dog carries around too much weight, it can lead to major health problems and an uncomfortable day-to-day lifestyle. And the number of obese and overweight pets is only increasing amongst American cats and dogs, according to the most recent annual survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Find out how to institute strong dietary practices to prevent weight issues, or eliminate excess weight if necessary. And, get tips on how to know if your pet has a weight problem.


So what makes your pet pudgy? The answer generally relates to the amount of food your cat or dog is eating, especially when compared with the frequency of your pet’s exercise. As a pet owner, you have a great deal of control over these two factors. To prevent, or treat, weight gain, it’s important to know how much you are feeding your pet and provide your cat or dog with ample opportunities and encouragement to exercise.


It is often easy to figure out when your pet is overweight: a telltale waddle, pudgy face and body, and reluctance to exercise will reveal the extra pounds. If your pet’s weight gain occurs gradually, it can be more challenging to spot. Find out some of the telltale signs of excess weight, such as poor grooming or difficulty moving around. And remember to keep an eye out on your pet’s shape: you should be able to see a defined waist. If you feel along your pet’s sides, and cannot feel your cat or dog’s ribs, your pet is carrying around too much poundage.


If your pet is overweight or obese, before making any major changes to diet or implementing an exercise plan, make your first step a discussion with a veterinarian about your strategy. The treatment plan will likely revolve around evaluating what your pet is eating - are there lots of treats? human food? big portions? - and making any necessary changes to diet. Vets may recommend high-protein snacks that are grain free like Zuke's Lil' Links to reduce caloric intake. As well, it will be important to implement changes to your pet’s exercise habits and brainstorm creative ways to introduce activities that will get your dog or cat moving around, like new cat toys or going on hikes with your dog.

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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