Managing a Healthy Weight

Managing a Healthy Weight banner

Obesity in pet dogs and cats has global significance.1-5

In some populations, the prevalence of veterinary-diagnosed overweight and obese animals has been cited as up to 65% in dogs and up to 63% in cats.2,3

Understanding, identifying, and managing excess weight in pets is vital for their health. Studies show that overweight or obese pets do not live as long as their leaner counterparts.6-9 Obesity is also linked with many diseases, including osteoarthritis and feline diabetes.10,11

Yet, surveys show that many pet owners do not perceive their pet’s weight as a problem.3,12,13 And just over half of pet owners reported that their veterinarian regularly initiated a discussion about weight during their pet's annual visit.4 This creates a critical conversation gap for addressing the risks of overweight and obesity in pet health.

Learn more about the links between health and body weight in pets, and the risks of excess weight in pet health.

In some populations, the prevalence of veterinary-diagnosed overweight and obese animals has been cited as up to 65% in dogs and up to 63% in cats. Footnotes 2 and 3

Explore areas of managing a healthy weight

Find out more

  1. Bomberg, E., Birch, L., Endenburg, N., German, A. J., Neilson, J., Seligman, H., Takashima, G., & Day, M. J. (2017). The financial costs, behaviour and psychology of obesity: A one health analysis. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 156(4), 310–325.
  2. German, A. J., Woods, G. R. T., Holden, S. L., Brennan, L., & Burke, C. (2018). Dangerous trends in pet obesity. The Veterinary Record, 182(1), 25. doi: 10.1136/vr.k2​
  3. Larsen, J. A., & Villaverde, C. (2016). Scope of the problem and perception by owners and veterinarians. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 46, 761–772. doi: 10.1016/j.cvsm.2016.04.001​
  4. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.​
  5. Ward, E., German, A. J., & Churchill, J. A. (n.d.). The global pet obesity initiative position statement. Retrieved October 14, 2021 from​
  6. Kealy, R. D., Lawler, D. F., Ballam, J. M., Mantz, S. L., Biery, D. N., Greeley, E. H., Lust, G., Segre, M., Smith, G. K., & Stowe, H. D. (2002). Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 220(9), 1315–1320.​
  7. Penell, J. C., Morgan, D. M., Watson, P., Carmichael, S., & Adams, V. J. (2019). Body weight at 10 years of age and change in body composition between 8 and 10 years of age were related to survival in a longitudinal study of 39 Labrador retriever dogs. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 61(1), 42.
  8. Salt, C., Morris, P. J., Wilson, D., Lund, E. M., & German, A. J. (2019). Association between life span and body condition in neutered client-owned dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 33(1), 89–99.​
  9. Teng, K. T., McGreevy, P. D., Toribio, J. L., Raubenheimer, D., Kendall, K., & Dhand, N. K. (2018). Strong associations of nine-point body condition scoring with survival and lifespan in cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 20(12), 1110–1118.​
  10. German, A. J., Ryan, V. H., German, A. C., Wood, I. S., & Trayhurn, P. (2010). Obesity, its associated disorders and the role of inflammatory adipokines in companion animals. Veterinary Journal, 185(1), 4–9.
  11. Laflamme, D. P. (2012). Obesity in dogs and cats: What is wrong with being fat? Journal of Animal Science, 90, 1653–1662.
  12. Eastland-Jones, R. C., German, A. J., Holden, S. L., Biourge, V., & Pickavance, L. C. (2014). Owner misperception of canine body condition persists despite use of a body condition score chart. Journal of Nutritional Science, 3, e45.
  13. Colliard, L., Paragon, B.-M., Lemuet, B. Bénet, J.-J., & Blanchard, G. (2009). Prevalence and risk factors of obesity in an urban population of healthy cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 11, 135–140.​

Want to find out more? Check out these references: