Overweight Pets

Image of an overweight cat lying on the ground.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 43% of all dogs and 53% of all cats are classified as overweight. What's worse is that an additional 10% of all dogs and 19% of all cats are considered obese! Therefore, more than half of our dogs and cats are overweight or obese. So, should your pet start an Atkins Diet?

Ramsey is a "cheese-aholic". At 6 years old and 156 lbs, this Bull Mastiff listens for his owner to unwrap the cellophane from a cheese slice and then makes a beeline for the refrigerator. Joyce Sternberg, Ramsey's owner, says originally cheese was an incentive to teach Ramsey to shut the back door. As a result, Ramsey had become so heavy he actually tried to avoid walks. Dislike for exercise is a common theme for overweight pets. Irene Snow was chided by her veterinarian for allowing her Malamute mix, Yogi Bear, to balloon up to 127 pounds. An overweight pet is more prone to heart problems, poor skin condition, lameness, and more serious illnesses, like diabetes. A ground-breaking study actually details how pets who free feed live an average of two years less than pets with limited calories.

Without realizing it, many owners contribute to pet obesity through good intentions. "Some pets get twice as many meals each day because no one is in charge of feeding," says Dr. Steve Hotchkiss, veterinarian and owner of Hulen Hills Animal Hospital. Hotchkiss challenged Ramsey and Yogi in a "Biggest Pet Loser" contest. Over the course of eight weeks, a newspaper article tracked the pounds that they shed and the trials they endured. Ramsey's beloved cheese was the first thing to go and Yogi's new treats consisted of green beans instead of ice cream. Both pets were also encouraged to increase their activity levels.

Changes were apparent within just a few weeks and when the results were announced, both dogs showed significant weight loss. Yogi Bear had lost more than 14 lbs, making him the Biggest Pet Loser for the contest. Keeping it off has been more of a challenge though. Ramsey, on the other hand, continued his progress and eventually lost a total of 32 lbs! He is now at a trim 124 lbs. and Sternberg says he has the energy of a puppy and is excited about walks.

APOP says that pet owners should open a dialogue with their veterinarian about their pet's weight. The very first step should be a good thorough physical examination and associated blood work. This will help rule out diseases that cause weight gain, like hypothyroidism in dogs. Next, devise a diet plan with your veterinarian for safely reducing the number of calories being fed while also increasing the calories being burned through activity. Finally, make exercise a priority. Two or more brisk walks each day for our pudgy pooches and thirty minutes of playtime with your flabby tabby can help them lose that excess weight. With your love and commitment, your pet can lose that excess poundage which, in turn, could add years to your pet's life.

Tips to help your pet lose weight:

  • Pets who are fed controlled portions of food live about two years longer than those who have unlimited access to the food bowl.
  • Start your pet's diet with a trip to the veterinarian. A thorough physical exam and blood tests can help rule out diseases that can cause weight gain.
  • Next, throw away the self-feeders and designate one person in the family to feed the pets. Feed a few small meals instead of one large meal.
  • Replace high calorie treats with healthy alternatives like green beans or carrots.
  • Increase your pet's activity level. Two brisk walks daily for your dog can help both of you shed the excess weight.
  • Try to spend about thirty minutes each day playing with your cat. Kitty Teasers and laser pointers can really help them lose pounds.
  • Follow up with your veterinarian and adjust your pet's diet and exercise routine as needed.
No form settings found. Please configure it.

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:00

Varies

Tuesday:

7:00

Varies

Wednesday:

7:00

Varies

Thursday:

7:00

Varies

Friday:

7:00

Varies

Saturday:

Closed

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Savell has always gone above and beyond for the care of our family's pets for several years."
    John Doe Newport News, VA

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Skunks

    Home and Veterinary Care for Pet Skunks If you're an adventurous pet owner, you may love exotic animals such as skunks. You'll be happy to learn that skunks can indeed make excellent domestic pets, but only if they receive the proper care to enjoy a happy, healthy life. Your veterinary team can help ...

    Read More
  • Sugar Gliders

    Thinking of getting a sugar glider? These tiny marsupials are energetic and friendly, making them popular choices as pets. Though they weigh less than a half-pound, they're more closely related to kangaroos than they are flying squirrels. If you think a sugar glider would make an ideal pet for your family, ...

    Read More
  • Flying Squirrels

    Much like sugar gliders, flying squirrels make affectionate pets when purchased young and raised by their owner. Unlike sugar gliders, however, flying squirrels are rodents that need veterinary care specific to the species. Your veterinary team can help with the care and treatment of flying squirrels. ...

    Read More
  • Rats

    Did you know rats make surprisingly affectionate pets? If you're thinking of bringing home a pet rat, here's what you need to know. Health Rats that are bred especially as pets are safe to keep and should be free of disease. But common conditions may affect your rats from time to time. Your veterinarian ...

    Read More
  • Chinchillas

    Chinchillas are playful, loveable, and amusing pets. If you want yours to remain in your family for long, you should ensure that it has a good diet. Chinchillas require a lot of attention due to their playful nature; therefore, it is best to have supervised playtime with yours if you want to create a ...

    Read More
  • Fennec Foxes

    Fennec Fox Care Guide With oversized ears and mischievous faces, fennec foxes are cute as can be. But these exotic pets require a lot of care to stay healthy and happy. Health At just three pounds, fennec foxes are the smallest member of the fox family. Native to the Sahara desert, fennec foxes are ...

    Read More
  • Guinea Pigs

    Curious and inquisitive by nature, guinea pigs make great pets. These little bundles of fur are quite social and enjoy spending time with the people who handle, feed, and groom them. As a pet, guinea pigs are relatively low maintenance, rarely aggressive, and fun to own. How to Care Guinea pigs are playful, ...

    Read More
  • Prairie Dogs

    Prairie dogs are cute, affable creatures. But before taking one on as a pet, check your local laws. In some states, such as Colorado, it's illegal to keep prairie dogs as pets. Mostly, this is because they may spread monkeypox. If you live in a state that welcomes pet prairie dogs, be sure to buy from ...

    Read More
  • Gerbils

    Gerbils are great little pets for pet owners who don't have room for a dog or cat. They're friendly and fun to watch, but they do take a moderate level of care and investment. If you're thinking of getting a gerbil, here's what you'll need to know to keep him happy and healthy, including giving him a ...

    Read More
  • Hedgehogs

    Shy animals that roll into a ball when scared, hedgehogs are covered with spiky quills. They're small, clean, and fun to watch so they're quite popular as pets. Even so, these little guys need lots of activity to stay healthy. Health Hedgehogs can have health problems, including dental diseases, skin ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles