Warning Signs Your Pet May Be Overweight

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Pet obesity is currently one of the top health concerns for our pets, and a quick assessment of optimal body weight could be the start of lengthening your pet's life.

Working with your vet to rule out other medical problems is the first step. While some drugs and some disease conditions (i.e. hypothyroidism) may cause a pet to be overweight, more often obesity is caused by overfeeding and high-calorie foods. Your vet will help you devise a diet and exercise plan for your pet to get on the track to health and fitness.​

  • 01 of 06

    Pet Has Lost His/Her Figure

    Fat cat on red chair
    Fat Cat On Red Chair

    When viewed from above, your pet's back should show some gentle curves: a gentle dip after the ribs (waist area), a gradual slope to the base of the tail. When viewed from the side, you should see a tucked up area just before the hind legs.

    Your pet may have a hair coat the prevents easy viewing, but gently running your hands along the top outline of your pet should reveal these natural curves.​

  • 02 of 06

    You Can No Longer Feel Your Pet's Ribs

    Fat tuxedo cat
    Fat Tuxedo Cat

    With gentle fingertip pressure, you should be able to feel your pet's ribs easily. If you can only feel cushioned body wall, your pet is carrying too much weight.

  • 03 of 06

    Your Pet Is Constantly Begging for Food

    Fat dog sitting by food bowls
    Fat Dog Sitting By Food Bowls

    A pet who is always on the lookout for food versus a pet who is comfortable free feeding is more likely to be overweight. If possible, it is best to offer food free choice (always available). This method of feeding does not usually work in mixed pet households and with pets who are always craving their next meal.

    Offering low-calorie treats helps reduce some of the cravings without adding on the pounds. Raw carrots are a great alternative if your pet will eat them. Stay away from foods such as ​grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts.

  • 04 of 06

    Your Pet Is Unable to Exercise and Keep up With You

    Fat Dog
    Fat Dog

    Pets of optimum body weight and in good health are usually up for a brisk walk or a game of Frisbee or catch anytime their owner is willing. Pets who are overweight may have the intention but are soon panting excessively or taking frequent rest breaks just to keep up.​

    Carrying extra body weight can lead to extra pressure on the joints (arthritis), heart, and lungs.

    Additionally, other organs, such as liver and pancreas can be affected; leading to diseases such as Fatty Liver (cats) and Diabetes Mellitus (dogs, cats, and humans). Cancer is also a risk factor for obesity.

  • 05 of 06

    Your Pet Suffers in the Summer Heat

    Fat tabby cat
    Fat Tabby Cat

    In addition to the body having to work harder just to move around, overweight pets overheat easily. Fat is a great insulator. This condition is known as heat intolerance, and will put overweight animals at greater risk for ​heatstroke.

  • 06 of 06

    Your Pet Is Considered at Greater Risk for Anesthesia/Surgery

    a cat getting
    A Cat Getting

    Some drugs are absorbed into the fat layers. This means that more drug is required to induce/maintain anesthesia than an animal of normal weight and it takes longer for the anesthesia to wear off.

    If the pet is undergoing a surgical procedure in the abdomen, the increased layers of fat make surgery more difficult; it is harder to visualize organs and other tissue, to securely ligate (tie off) vessels, and to close the incision working with extra layers of fat.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.