Happy National Pet Obesity Awareness Day!

What is obesity?

Obesity is a nutritional disease that can have a detrimental impact on your pet’s health. It can take up to two years off your pet’s life. Obesity is defined by an excess of body fat. When pets are overfed, lack exercise or have a tendency to retain weight, they are at most risk of being obese. Obesity can affect multiple areas of the body, including bones and joints, the digestive organs, and the organs responsible for breathing. Obesity occurs most often in middle-aged, neutered and indoors pets.


Obesity is normally caused by an imbalance between energy intake and its usage. However, you should always consult your veterinarian before beginning a new diet. Other causes can include hypothyroidism, insulinoma, hyperadrenocorticism, and neutering.


Use this chart to check if your pet is overweight. You can also check your pet by feeling their ribs. You should be able to feel them easily. There should be a bit of fat over them, but each rib should be distinct. If you can see the ribs, your pet is too thin. If you cannot feel them at all, your pet is overweight. Second, check the area near the base of the tail. There should be a slight fat covering over this area and it should feel smooth. If the bones protrude, the pet is too thin; if you cannot feel any bones at all, your pet is very overweight. Third, feel other bony prominences on the pet’s body such as the spine, shoulders, and hips. Again, you should be able to feel a small amount of fat over these areas.

Fourth, look at your pet from above. Your pet should have a definite waist behind the ribs. If the waist is extreme, or bony prominences are visible, the animal is too thin. If there is no waist, or worse yet, the area between the ribs and hips is wider than the hips or ribs, the dog or cat is grossly overweight. Finally, look at the pet from the side. Dogs and cats should have an abdominal tuck, i.e., the area behind the ribs should be smaller in diameter than the chest. Pets that are too thin will have a very severe abdominal tuck. Overweight pets will have no abdominal tuck.

Tools and Treatment

Try special food such as Purina Overweight Management or Prescription Diet Weight Loss to help your pet lose weight. Remember to exercise and play as much as possible, your pet needs it!

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