Pet parents love their fur babies, even when they are chubby.  But overweight pets face many of the same health risks as overweight humans. Pets have imitated their owners in terms of weight gain and obesity and this trend, unfortunately, continues to rise.

Common Reasons for Pet Weight Gain

The number one reason for weight gain is overeating or ingesting more calories than a pet burns. In fact, a lack of exercise goes hand in hand with overeating as a cause of weight gain.  Other reasons for an increase in weight include medical issues, mobility issues, and age.

Health Issues Related to Weight Gain

Pets that have packed on the pounds are at risk for various serious health issues including:

  • Arthritis
  • Cardiac disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Inability to groom with skin and fur coat conditions
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver conditions
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Respiratory difficulties and complications


Along with diseases and health issues, pets will experience reduced quality of life. They may be the victim of a disease that shortens their lifespan or suffer ambulatory problems and not be able to walk, much less run, play, or jump.

Preventing Obesity and Keeping Your Pet a Healthy Weight

A priority for pet owners should be keeping their furry family members at a healthy weight and this means following these basic tips for pet fitness.

●       Veterinary Evaluation and Follow-Ups

Pets need an annual check-up to evaluate overall health, nutrition, weight, and any other health concerns. An initial evaluation should be followed by occasional check-ups throughout the year.

●       Dietary Discipline

Pets should follow a recommended diet for their breed, size, age, and any health issues your pet may have. Your veterinarian can assist you in this and indicate portion sizes as well.

●       Award Treats Sparingly

To avoid aiding your pooch or kitty in packing on the pounds, do not overindulge your pet with food treats. Substitute edible treats with praise, favorite games or toys, and lots of cuddling and affection. Food treats should be awarded sparingly and should be pet treats. Opt for low-calorie treats that are bite-sized low-calorie treats

●       Exercise and More Exercise

Pets need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. This includes walks, jogging, and interactive games. Some high-energy breeds may require more than an hour daily. This is not only good for a pet but the owners as well and is another method for bonding with your pet. If you cannot guarantee your pet’s exercise, consider getting a pro to walk your dog or pet sit and play.

How Will I Be Able to Notice Gradual Weight Gain?

Weighing your pet weekly on a scale is an option. If this is difficult, an alternative method is the hand test.

The Hand Test

A “Hand Test” can be performed to get an idea of a pet’s weight. The Vegas Vets explain:

“Use your hand to feel your pet’s ribs which are located behind the front legs of cats and dogs.

If the animal’s ribs feel like the back of a hand, then the pet is probably a normal weight. If instead, the animal’s ribs feel like the knuckles on a hand, then your pet is too thin and most likely underweight. If the ribs have a cushion-like feel similar to the palm of a hand, your pet is most likely overweight.”

Other Indications of Excessive Weight Gain

Observe your pet walking or playing. If they are moving less or taking breaks more often, these may be signs of excess weight gain. If your pet is less interested in playing or has a hard time keeping up it might be related to issues influenced by excess weight.

Steps for Reducing Weight

Reduce Calorie Intake

Select a pet weight-loss food or reduce the portion size of food.

Increase Exercise

Consult your vet and increase daily exercise. How much you increase movement will depend on, breed, age, and medical issues.

Medical Issues

Consider underlying medical conditions that may not have been diagnosed including food allergies and intolerances that may require a special diet without specific ingredients.

No People Food

Do not give your pet food from the dinner table. Leftovers and scraps contribute to weight gain.

A Final Thought

Your veterinarian’s office is the best place to begin weight control and weight loss if necessary. Your vet will assess weight in relation to the breed, age, sterilization, and medical issues.

Feed nutritious pet food, eliminate people’s food, and give treats sparingly. Establish objectives with a veterinarian’s help. Encourage exercise and make it fun. It’s up to you to maintain your pet’s weight and health so your pet will live a healthy, long, and quality life.