Recognizing if Your Pet is Overweight

Recognizing if Your Pet is Overweight
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Weight gain is something that can creep up on your pet if you're not paying attention. Don't let your pet fall victim to obesity. Learn the tips and tricks to recognize healthy weight.

It seems obvious how you would recognize an overweight cat or dog - just take a good hard look! But when you see your pet daily, the weight gain can creep up on you. Yearly visits to the vet can help make identifying weight gain easy. In between visits, try keeping an eye on the following habits and changes in your cat or dog, so that your pet’s weight changes won’t be a surprise.

Step on the Scale

If you made a note of your pet’s weight at your last visit to the vet, try putting your cat or dog on the scale occasionally to see if there has been a shift in weight. Keep in mind that depending on your pet’s size, even a gain of a couple of pounds can be significant. Don’t know your pet’s weight? Try asking a friend to take a look - someone who sees your cat or dog less frequently may find it easier to spot extra pounds.

Moving & Exercising

Has your dog become reluctant to move around when you play catch? When dogs become reluctant to play, dawdle during daily walks, or have trouble getting into the car, this can reflect a body that has grown ungainly with weight. For cats, the effect of weight gain can be seen in difficulty jumping up on formerly easy to reach surfaces and a reluctance to play games. Pets should not seem tired after a short walk or brief bout of activity.

Both cats and dogs should be able to easily lie down and stand up. Another potential warning sign to be aware of is a dog that barks but doesn’t rise to investigate further. Changes in your pet’s activity level can be a side effect of weight gain.


Look for matted or greasy fur by your cat’s back or near her tail. Excessive body mass can make it challenging for cats to cover their usual grooming areas.

Look at the Face & Check Their Figure

As cats and dogs gain weight, the shape of their face can change, becoming fatter, rounder, and less defined. As you move your hands along the cat or dog, you should be able to feel ribs through their fur -- if you can’t, that’s a tipoff that your pet needs to lose a bit of weight. If you can’t see your cat or dog’s natural waistline, that’s also a sign of excessive weight. To check, look at your pet from above. You should see a slight inward curve around the waist area. Looking from the side, pets should have an indentation around their back legs. A visible, moving belly on a cat is generally a sign of excessive weight, as is waddling.

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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