Obesity In Pets | Update

They give you the look. Big, soulful eyes that beg for more love—yes, that look. It’s a look that has been perfected over tens of thousands of years of interaction with their people. A doleful stare that begs for extra kibble, another cookie, a biscuit and sometimes bacon or whatever it is that you are eating.

Oh, and it works. So well that even the most informed pet guardian finds it hard to resist. Who else loves you unconditionally? We are most likely all guilty of rewarding that love by handing over a bite of hot dog, a few chips while sitting on the couch taking in a show, or the lick of the dinner plate. After all, we internally justify this behavior because they do give a good prewash.

However, let’s face facts. We are contributing to a growing epidemic of pet obesity—and at quite an alarming rate. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) over 54% of our pet dogs and cats are obese. And, just like their faithful human companions, the health risks are quite frightening.

Here are the top common risk factors of allowing your pet to become overweight and obese:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Kidney Disease
  • Many types of Cancer

Obesity causes pain, undue suffering and can be disabling for long periods of time–just like it affects the human body. Yet barring any extreme medical condition, it is entirely preventable.

So why do we have such an epidemic on our hands? We as guardians have complete control over our pets’ diet. If you are feeding the correct diet, ensuring that your pet exercises, and visiting your veterinarian regularly, what are we as pet people missing?

The answer is simple: plenty. A one-size-fits-all plan leaves a lot of needed information on the table. Pet parents may need to do a little research.

For instance, some breeds are prone to obesity. Miniature Pinschers, Dachshunds, Labradors and Newfoundland’s and Pugs tend to be the top dogs in obesity. Exotic, British and American Shorthair, Persian and Peke faced tend to be the chubby breeds.

Altered males and females also tend to gain extra pounds.

Age is also a common denominator in dogs and cats fighting obesity. Just as us humans age and our metabolism changes, so does that of our furry friends. Their diet needs change as well.

Last but not least, we pet guardians need to look in the mirror. Obese pet parents tend to have obese pets. Whether it comes from an aversion to a healthy diet and exercise, or, whether they don’t recognize what is obesity.

These images are from Ohio State University

There are a lot of words being bandied about out there—fat, husky, big-boned, curvy or full figured—to describe the epidemic of obesity. In our pets, it is much easier to determine. Try these simple checks on your pet:

  • You should be able to feel your pets ribs with gentle pressure.
  • Stand over your standing pet—you should be able to see his/her waistline—an hourglass figure.
  • Check your pet from the side while he/she is standing. The belly should be tucked up and not hanging below the rib cage.


If your pet fails these quick checks, you need to reevaluate your lifestyle and your pets.

Obesity will shorten your pet’s life by months if not several years. Maybe both of you need to get off the couch and get fresh air and exercise. Change your diet and stop demonstrating love through food. Attention and a good stroking will benefit you both.

An example is shown below of a high quality puppy, cat or small breed dog slow feed bowl as a great starting point to feeding your pets in a healthy but fun and satisfying way.

slow feed bowl for puppies




Dr P Proctor BVSc (Hons) MRCVS
Co-founders: Simply Pets Online Ltd
A Maze In A Bowl For Dogs and Cats

“Two Vets – One mission Happy Healthy Pets…”

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Slow Feed Cat Bowl | A-Maze-In-A-Bowl for Cats | Interactive Feed Bowl

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Slow Feed Cat Bowl | A-Maze-In-A-Bowl for Cats | Interactive Feed Bowl

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