Is Your Pet Overweight? Here’s How to Tell

Obesity has become a major epidemic in the United States and other parts of the world, and the problem extends to more than just humans. It’s very easy for our pets to become obese as well, especially if they live indoors, lead sedentary lifestyles, and have unlimited access to food. More than half of U.S. dogs and cats are now overweight or obese.

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For the most part, animals and humans were not built to be living the types of lives people and pets live now, but there are things we can do to keep ourselves and our pets healthy even in the modern world.

In order to know whether you need to initiate a change, of course, you need to know whether your pet is actually overweight and by how much. Read on to find out how you can do this and what to do if your pet needs to lose weight.

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How Do I Know If My Pet Is Overweight?

There are a few ways to determine whether your pet might be overweight or obese. Pet obesity charts online are a good place to start. We’ve included examples here so you can compare how your cat or dog looks to the photos and decide which category they likely fit into.

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You can also look up the breed standards for your pet (if you know their breed) and see whether their current weight falls within the normal standards for the breed. This may be harder to do with mixed breeds, but you might still be able to get a good idea of what’s “normal” for your pet by looking up the breeds they resemble or are mixes of. Of course, remember to take other measures like their height and length into account when attempting to determine whether they’re at a good weight.

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Another method to determine whether a cat or dog is overweight is to try to feel their ribs. Not all breeds are exactly the same, but a good rule of thumb is that you should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs and see a pronounced waist, but the ribs shouldn’t be protruding and easily visible. If you cannot see the ribs at all and have to press fairly hard to find them, your pet likely needs to shed a few pounds. Learn more about body condition scoring here.

If you’re not sure, it’s always a great idea to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s health and what a good weight for them would be.

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What Do I Do If My Pet Is Overweight?

The best way to deal with an overweight or obese pet is to start an appropriate daily exercise routine and begin limiting how much food your pet has access to each day. Take your pet for regular walks, encourage play, feed measured amounts of healthy pet foods, and cut back on or eliminate table scraps and treats.

It’s important not to go overboard by overexercising or underfeeding your pet. Research breed standards and take into account any health conditions when deciding how much and what your pet should eat and how long and hard they should exercise.

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Being careful not to feed processed human foods and other unhealthy options to your pet can also go a long way in this department. Most dogs and cats need a diet high in protein and low in carbs and fillers. Avoiding preservatives is always a good idea too.

If you typically keep your pet’s food bowl filled at all times, try removing it from their reach except at meal times two or three times a day. Measure out the correct amount for your pet and feed leave their bowl out for half an hour or so or until the food is gone. Feed each pet in your household separately. Make sure your pet always has access to fresh water.

One sure way to ensure you pick an appropriate diet and exercise regimen is to discuss the matter with your veterinarian. If you have any doubts at all about your plan, please turn to your vet for more answers.

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What to Do If It’s Not Working

Putting your pet on a new diet and starting an exercise routine is going to take some patience. Your pet may whine or show signs of stubbornly not wanting to give up their old lifestyle, and who can blame them? Keep at it, stay consistent, and wait to see if results will surface in a few weeks or months.

However, if your weight loss plan really isn’t doing the job or seems to be causing your pet undue stress, please contact your veterinarian to ensure that you’re doing the right things for your pet and that there aren’t underlying health conditions affecting your pet’s weight.

We wish you and your pet all the best health and many happy years together!

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