Helping Your Pet Maintain a Healthy Weight

Pet owners treat their beloved pets with what they feel will do them good: fatty snacks, and table scraps, complementing the already large portions of food they already eat at mealtime.

As a result, pet insurance claims due to health problems directly related to being overweight are soaring. In the last couple of years, and especially during the pandemic pet owners found they gave their pets more treats throughout the day with little exercise. With food shortages a handful of pet owners had to change food brands causing slight weight gain for some pets. Since pet insurers have seen obesity related health claims increase, it is becoming more common for them to start cutting payouts as a penalty if your pet is overweight.

What Common Health Problems are Associated to Pet Obesity?

There are a few common health problems that are directly associated to pet obesity, which include:

  • Joint, ligament and tendon issues.
  • Problems with breathing.
  • Overexertion on the heart.
  • Large, overweight cats can develop skin disorders because they are not able to clean themselves properly.

Obese cat as an owner it is important to keep your pet as healthy as you can

The long-term effects on your pet’s health and lifespan could be disastrous and pet obesity has the potential to make existing health problems and concerns worse. It is important to keep in mind that obesity can also play a role in the length and quality of our pet’s life span.

How Do I Properly Get My Pet on a Diet?

It’s not all bad news though: putting your pet on a diet is a lot easier than doing the same to yourself. Your pet can only eat what it’s given, so you can take control of the situation. The weight of your pet is your responsibility, so if it is overweight then it’s your job to fix the situation as they cannot do so themselves. It’s not all about food either, if you have an overweight dog then take them for a walk, use them as your potential exercise partner and you may both benefit from it. Pets put on weight gradually so the reverse should be applied, and their food allowance should gradually be cut.

It would be in your favor to not give them snacks between meals and stick rigidly to set mealtimes. They’ll soon get used to the new regime. You can also introduce more exercise to help them get fitter and also improve their quality of life.

Here’s how to tell if your pet needs to lose some weight. Of course, your pet will have a certain amount of fatty padding, but there shouldn’t be too much. Rub your pet gently over their ribs, you should be able to feel them without any trouble and the skin should move over the ribs quite easily. Then take a look at your pet from the side from a few feet away. If your pet has a hanging stomach and looks like it could be expecting some babies, then it’s definitely time to introduce a diet.

Walking your dog and keeping your pet healthy and maintain good weight

Your pet’s stomach should slope in to form an obvious waist area at the bottom of the rib cage. Now stand over your pet and take a look from above. If your pet’s middle is bulging out to the sides like an apple, then it’s carrying extra weight.

Breeds With Inherited Weight Problems

It’s not just the four-legged friends either, all animals have the potential to become overweight. If you are a bird owner, examine your bird for rolls of fat or a larger than usual breast area. Some breeds and species of pet have weight problems inherent in their genetic make-up. Consider the following:

  • Dogs: Labradors, spaniels, beagles, corgis, and retrievers are all genetically predisposed to becoming overweight, especially as they get older.
  • Cats: Less-active breeds, Persians for example, put on weight as they don’t do much exercise. Zany, fast moving breeds like Abyssinians and Siamese usually keep the weight off
  • Birds: Amazon parrots are particularly prone to piling on the ounces.

If you have just concluded that your pet is overweight, don’t be tempted to put your pet on a crash diet. Cats can develop a fatal liver problem if their food rations are suddenly cut, and they lose weight at a fast rate. Ask your vet for advice on how best to put your pet on a diet and commit yourself to carrying it through. You owe it to your pet.


  1. Pet Food, Nutrition and Weight Management Survey, Pet Obesity Prevention.
  2. U.S. Pet Obesity Rates Continues to Rise, CBS News.
  3. Pet Obesity, RSPCA.