Ask the Vet: Prevent Pets from Packing on the Pounds

January 15, 2020

A majority of pets in the U.S. are suffering from a serious condition that not only shaves years off their lives but can also dramatically reduce the quality of the time they have left.

It’s obesity. In fact, a recent study released by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that more than 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs are overweight or obese.

Pet obesity is one of the most preventable health problems facing America’s pets. Too much weight can age a pet, just like a person. Taking steps to help pets stay in shape can make a major improvement in their quality of life.

In addition to a decreased life-expectancy, animals who are overweight are at risk for cranial cruciate ligament injury, heart and respiratory disease, insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, as well as osteoarthritis.

With the start of a new year, it’s a good time to resolve to help your four-legged friends stay slim. Here are a few tips for managing your pet’s weight:

  • Schedule regular check-ups with your family veterinarian. He or she can help evaluate your pet’s size and make recommendations about diet.
  • Your family vet can also help you determine whether you’re feeding your pet the correct portion size.
  • Don’t feed pets table scraps and take it easy with treats. Don’t confuse food with love!
  • Get your pet moving. Exercise is as important for pets as it is for people.
  • If your pet is obese, start your exercise program slowly. It’s okay to start with something as simple as a walk around the block.

For more information about pets and weight management, contact your family veterinarian and visit:

By Kristina DePaula, DVM, DACVECC – Medical Director, BluePearl Veterinary Partners – Waltham. In partnership with NEADS.

Read all our Ask the Vet columns here.

Originally published 1/2018; updated 1/2020