Weight Control in Your Pet

Obesity in domesticated animals, like people, has become an epidemic. Often owners do not even realize that their animal may be overweight.

Obesity can have multiple negative effects on your pet:

  • Obesity shortens your pet’s lifespan.
  • It predisposes them to diseases such as diabetes.
  • Overweight animals are more likely to develop orthopedic injuries such as ACL tears.
  • Obesity makes your pet more likely to struggle with arthritis and weakness as they age.
  • Obesity can negatively impact their immune system.
  • Most importantly, obesity can make it difficult for your pet to do the things he loves such as playing fetch, going for walks, or jumping onto the couch.

How can I tell if my pet is overweight?

  • Both dogs and cats are meant to have a roughly hourglass shape.
    • When you view your pet from above, their waist should be narrower than the hips and the ribs.  When viewed from the side, your pet should become thinner after the ribcage.
    • Many older cats may have pendulous abdominal skin in the lower abdomen that can be normal despite healthy weight.  This region, called a fat pad, should be thin and predominantly skin rather than heavy or fat-filled.
  • When assessing weight, it is important to also feel the abdomen and chest with your hands.
    • A thick hair coat can hide fat or make a thin animal appear to be in good flesh.
    •  In a healthy weight pet, you should be able to feel the rib cage easily without applying pressure.  If it is difficult to feel the ribs through the soft tissues, you pet is likely carrying extra weight.
    • As pets begin to gain excessive weight, they may store fat in several locations other than the chest and abdomen.  Many will develop fat deposits over the hips, sides, and on top of the tail.

The images below show the different weight categories for a both dogs and cats.

Cat WeightDog Weight
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