Health & Nutrition | Dogs | Cats | August 25, 2020

Feeding the Overweight Dog or Cat

The feel of understanding overweight pets

It is estimated that at least a quarter to half of the pet population is overweight or obese. That’s a lot of overweight pets!

This occurs due to a variety of factors such as having a sedentary lifestyle and overfeeding food and treats.

Is Your Pet Overweight?

Many pet parents do not recognize when their pet has a few extra pounds that need to be shed. So, how do you determine if your pet is overweight? You can determine this through the Look & Feel method:

  • Look: A slight indent should be visible in front of the hind legs when looking at your pet from above, creating an hourglass shape. A sausage-shape suggests that a weight loss plan may be needed.
  • Feel: You should be able to run your hands along your pet’s body and feel the ribs and hips without pressing hard.

To help you determine what an ideal weight looks like, you can use the Petcurean body score charts:

Look Now: Body score chart for dogs  |  for cats

The Food Factor

Many pets, particularly some breeds of dogs, seem to want to eat all the time and it can be hard to resist those big, begging eyes. It can be problematic if you feed your pet simply because they are “telling” you they feel hungry. Feeding your pet until you think they feel full may result in overfeeding.

Using the feeding guidelines found on pet foods can also sometimes lead to pets weighing too much or too little. Just like people, every pet is unique in how they metabolize the food they eat. So, feeding guidelines should not be used as hard and fast rules, but simply as a starting point, with adjustments made to achieve your pet’s ideal body weight. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for their health. Besides a shortened life span, overweight pets are also predisposed to diabetes and joint issues.

Read More: 7 Dangers of Obesity in Dogs

Weight Loss & Control

If you determine that you have an overweight pet, a slight reduction in food may work. In cases where more weight loss is required, a weight loss recipe may be beneficial. Weighing your pet’s food using a kitchen scale instead of using a scoop will also help you carefully control how much you feed.

Weight loss of 1-2% per week is a good target; too fast can be unhealthy.

To check your progress, weigh your pet weekly using a bathroom scale. Simply weigh yourself, then pick up your pet (hopefully you can!) and weigh both of you on the scale. Subtract your weight from the total to figure out your pet’s body weight.

Change may be a challenge, as feeding contributes to the human-animal bond. Consider rewarding yourself and your pet with other activities such as play, going for a walk, and training to exercise your pet’s mind and body.