How to tell if your pet is overweight

Good news! Reports of how much weight people gain during the Holidays are often exaggerated. All that festive feasting, though, can make us feel like making some New Year’s resolutions. So can the extra pounds we didn’t quite get rid of last time around. The same is true for your pet. Obesity is a major problem for our dogs and cats. Studies show that over half of Americans’ dogs and cats are overweight. The health consequences can be significant. But there is hope for us all. Here are some tips that your veterinarian would like you to know about pet obesity.


First of all, how can you tell if your pet is overweight? One simple way is to feel for your dog’s ribs and spine. If you can’t find the ribs, it’s time to get to work. If you aren’t sure about your pooch’s pouch, your vet is happy to help. You can also ask about the optimal weight for your dog’s breed. If your dog is more than 15% above that number, your dog is obese.

Having trouble weighing your dog? One option is to go to your veterinary hospital for a checkup and weigh-in. To do it at home, all you need to do is step on the scale yourself and take note of your weight. Then step on the scale holding your pup. The difference between the two readings is your pet’s weight. This technique can also help us evaluate our own weight, but we won’t go there.

Check your pet’s weight every month or so. If you need to take weight-loss measures for your pet, check his or her weight every week to monitor progress. We will get into weight loss for pets in a few weeks.

Want more good news? Don’t feel bad about having an overweight pet. For starters, you can get back on track through the diet and exercise that we will recommend later in December. Also, don’t beat yourself up. You may have a breed that is especially hard to keep in shape. These include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Bassett Hounds, and Golden Retrievers. If yours is overweight, take heart in the fact that it is common. If you have a breed prone to obesity, and she is not overweight, give yourself—and your pet— a pat on the back. Then keep up the good work.