verweight and obesity have reached epidemic levels in dogs and cats in the United States, aﬀecting approximately 1 in 5 dogs and cats.
Although some might consider pets to be cuter or
happier when they are overweight, the truth is, being
overweight is linked to other serious conditions
such as arthritis, heart and respiratory problems and
diabetes mellitus (cats).
The easiest way to tell whether a dog or cat is
overweight or obese is to weigh the pet regularly
and assess the pet’s body condition (see page 17).
Pets are considered to have an “overweight” body
condition when their ribs, spine and hip bones can
barely be felt when touching their body, a defned
waist cannot be seen and belly fat is noticeable.
Additionally, pets may be unable to engage in normal
activity because of this excess body fat and may have
difculty breathing, particularly when active.
Veterinarians will diagnose pets as overweight by
tracking body weight over time and assessing body
condition regularly. Veterinarians can also determine
whether excess weight gain might be due to, or be a
sign of, an underlying disease such as hypothyroidism
in dogs. Restricting caloric intake and increasing
activity are the most successful methods for weight
loss in dogs and cats that are otherwise healthy.
Nutritional counseling with a veterinarian, and diets
specially formulated for weight loss, can aid in
reaching a healthy weight.
• Dogs and cats are getting fatter. The prevalence of
excess body weight has increased by 37 percent in
dogs and 90 percent in cats since 2007.
• Mature adult dogs and cats are more at risk for
being overweight than pets of other age groups.
Mature adult large breed dogs are most at risk, with
about 1 in 5 (28 percent) diagnosed as overweight
• In 2011, the states with the highest prevalence of
overweight and obesity in cats include Minnesota,
South Dakota and Oklahoma. For dogs, Minnesota
once again ranked highest, followed by South Dakota