We all love to see our pet’s excitement when we offer table scraps or a favorite treat. But are these treats doing more harm than good? Sadly, obesity in pets is a growing issue. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs in the United States are classified as overweight or obese.

October 9 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, and Thomas Labs wanted to do its part by helping raise awareness about pet obesity and promoting healthier lifestyles for our beloved furry friends!

The Scary Truths About Pet Obesity

Some pet owners may think a few extra pounds on their pet isn’t a big deal. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! The sad fact is that overweight pets face struggles and health problems that reduce their quality of life and interfere with their daily life.

Here are 3 scary truths about pet obesity:

  1. Overweight pets often need more veterinary care because of the increased risk of various health issues including high blood pressure, heart disease, skin infections, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, immune suppression, arthritis, and cancer.
  2. Obese pets often have a lower quality of life due to excess weight. Just a few extra pounds on a pet can put significant stress on the body. This can lead to difficulty breathing, decreased energy and stamina, and heat intolerance.
  3. Although it’s hard to think about, overweight pets have a decreased life expectancy. Pets are like family, and losing them is hard to imagine!

Ideal Dog and Cat Weight Ranges

Does your dog or cat fall within a healthy weight range? Just as ideal weight ranges can vary for different people, the same is true for dogs and cats. As a general guideline, the APOP suggests ideal weight ranges for a variety of dog and cat breeds. If your pet falls outside of these ideal weight ranges, be sure to talk to your vet.

Ideal Weight Ranges of Popular U.S. Dog Breeds

Labrador Retriever 65-80 Lb
German Shepherd Dog 75-95 Lb
Yorkshire Terrier Less than 7 Lb
Golden Retriever 65-75 Lb
Beagle 18-30 Lb
Boxer 50-75 Lb
Bulldog 40-50 Lb
Dachshund Mini: 8-10 Lb
Poodle Mini: 11-17 Lb
Shih Tzu 8-16 Lb

Ideal Weight Ranges of Popular U.S. Cat Breeds

Domestic Cat 8-10 Lb
Persian 7-12 Lb
Siamese 5-10 Lb
Maine Coon 10-25 Lb

How to Prevent Pet Obesity & Manage Your Pet’s Weight

Helping our pets lose weight is easier said than done. It’s often a slow process and requires patience. An ideal goal for pet weight loss is approximately 3.5 to 4% of current body weight per month. Here are a few steps you can take to help manage your pet’s weight!

One of the first steps in managing your pet’s weight is checking if he or she is already overweight. The APOP provides easy at-home body condition tests so that pet owners can know whether their pet is overweight or obese.

If you think your dog or cat may be overweight, be sure to talk to your vet about it. Your vet can assess your pet’s weight and make sure there isn’t an underlying condition causing the excess weight.

If your pet is overweight, your vet will probably suggest putting your pet on a diet. This may include giving your pet a reduced-calorie pet food, giving smaller portions to your pet, and avoiding free feeding. And of course, you’ll need to give treats sparingly!

A pet’s caloric needs will vary based on lifestyle, activity level, genetics, and medical conditions. The APOP gives approximate daily caloric needs for average indoor pets, although your vet may suggest feeding your pet fewer calories if it needs to lose weight. Keep in mind that although overweight pets need fewer calories, they still need an adequate amount of essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and protein.

Lastly, we can’t forget the importance of exercise! Dogs and cats should receive exercise every day. Think fast-paced walks for dogs and intense play periods for cats. Some pets may not be a fan of exercising, so pet owners need to get a little creative to get their pets moving. Here are some tips to do just that!

  • Move your pet’s food bowl to a new location that requires them to walk further. Think downstairs, upstairs, or somewhere far from your pet’s favorite locations in the house.
  • Think of new and exciting ways to encourage physical activity. Laser pointers and new toys or balls can provide hours of fun and exercise!
  • Ball retrieving and swimming are great options for dogs. But when it comes to cats, good luck! Feather toys, boxes, and flashlights might be just what you need to help get your cat moving.

Don’t let pet obesity steal time or joy from your pet’s life. Talk to your vet and follow their recommendations for managing your pet’s weight. Your pet’s health depends on it!