Help Your Pet With Weight Management and Obesity



Pet obesity is a growing problem in dogs and cats, especially with an increase in indoor living and city life. However, there are ways you can help with your pet’s weight management and overall health, including exercise, veterinary checkups, and therapeutic diets.

What Is Pet Obesity?

A pet is considered obese when they are over a 3.5 on a 5-point body condition score, or over 6 on a 9-point scale. Your local veterinary clinic can help you determine your pet’s body condition score by evaluating areas such as fat over the ribs and back, and tuck and trim of the hips and belly in addition to checking your pet’s weight.

Pet obesity is an important issue to treat as it can lead to other health issues including diabetes, arthritis and joint inflammation, and decreased lifespan. By working on calorie control in addition to a healthy exercise and weight-loss plan, you can help reduce pet obesity.

When Will My Vet Recommend an Obesity Diet?

If your vet gives you a diagnosis of pet obesity, they will likely work with you on a weight management plan. This plan involves a combination of a breed specific food for weight loss, an exercise plan that gradually increases activity level, and treating any related health issues.

In addition to treatment, your vet will also want to start a weight management plan. This includes bringing your pet to the veterinary clinic at scheduled intervals to track their weight and body condition score, and to track overall progress.

The Benefits of Special Diets

A veterinary diet is an easy way to help get your pet’s weight under control and is a good place to start. Weight loss and weight management diets are formulated with a proper protein level and high fiber content to reduce the amount of calories your pet eats. In addition to being lower in calories, the high fiber content helps your pet feel fuller faster and longer, so they are less likely to beg for treats and additional meals and will eat less overall. In some cases, these diets can also help with concurrent issues such as stress or urinary problems in cats that may limit their ability to stay active.


Be sure to transition your pet’s food over a period of 7-9 days. Start by adding in 25% of the new food, and gradually increase the amount over time. By taking the time to switch food, you will reduce the chances of GI upset and allow your pet’s intestinal flora to adjust.

Other Ways to Help Your Pet

In addition to a weight management diet, you can help your pet lose weight by increasing their activity level. For dogs, starting on short walks two to three times daily can increase calorie burn without being too taxing on the joints. For cats, a cat treadmill, obstacle course, or chasing a laser pointer or toy several times a day can increase their activity level. For pets that are severely obese, exercise with a veterinary physical therapist can help them safely lose weight.

Pet obesity, while serious, is a treatable issue. By focusing on a specific diet, increasing exercise, and monitoring weight loss, you can help your pet maintain a healthy weight and live a longer, happier life.



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