How to Help Your Pet Lose Weight

Pets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are bigger, some are shorter, and some are rounder. If you’re reading this, you might have a friend concerned about their pet’s weight. Maybe your friend’s vet has mentioned they are also worried about their pet’s weight and advised them to slim down. Just as your pet didn’t become overweight overnight, the road to weight loss will take time.

Signs Your Pet Might be Overweight

Without getting into specific breed characteristics, a few critical physical traits can give you a rough idea about your pet’s body condition. They are the prominence of their ribs, the side-view shape of their belly, and the formation of their midsection when viewed from above.

Your pet’s ribs should be easy to feel without pressing too hard but not so prominent that they can be seen individually from a distance. When viewed from the side, your pet should have a triangular shape to its abdomen as it moves from the end of its ribs to the beginning of its hind legs.

Looking from above, there should be a gently sloping hourglass shape to their waist that’s easy, not extreme. Please note that these are very general guidelines, and many breeds can be at an ideal weight even if they don’t conform to the breed descriptions.

Risks of Excess Weight

When pets carry extra fat, they also have an increased risk for health challenges as they progress through life. Cats often get type II diabetes, problems with their urinary system, liver problems, problems with their hygiene, and trouble moving around because their bones and joints are put under too much pressure. Because their skeleton carries around those extra pounds, dogs are especially prone to orthopedic problems.

Dogs are more at risk for overheating and breathing problems than slimmer pets. Also, the excess fat tissue can make it harder for dogs and cats to figure out what’s wrong or to have surgery.

Over the years, there’s also been debate over whether long-term obesity is associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. This is a highly complex topic, though, since genetics, environment, breed, and many other unknown factors also play a role in risk levels for cancer.

How do I Weigh My Pet

It is easier said than done. Cats are wiggly, and some dogs are stubborn. To expect them to stand on a scale is not realistic. We can suggest some simple tips to get an accurate weight for your pet. If you have a scale at home and can safely lift your pet, try weighing them by weighing yourself with and without your pet on your bathroom scale.

If your pet is too large, too small, or too stressed for the at-home weighing method above, consider stopping by your vet’s office for one of their unique scales. This is also a great way to help reduce vet visit anxiety, as your pet will associate the vet’s office with fun outings to get weighed.


You can promote an active lifestyle by keeping your pet engaged indoors and outdoors. Just as your pet didn’t become overweight overnight, the road to weight loss will take time.

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