Veterinary Blog

Obesity Awareness: Being Overweight Can Hurt Your Pet


Although it may seem like a few extra pounds is no big deal for our pets, being overweight is a serious problem. That’s why we’re offering 10% off any of our weight control diets through the end of April.

Why does it matter if my pet’s overweight?

As many as 50% to 60% of cats and dogs in Canada may be overweight or obese.* The reason this is concerning is because carrying extra weight can cause many health issues for both dogs and cats. Overweight pets are at increased risk of developing:

  • Arthritis and other joint issues
  • Cancer
  • Constipation
  • Decreased immune function
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Skin issues

Even scarier, cats and dogs carrying extra weight may not live as long as those at a healthy weight.

So how do I know if my pet is at a healthy weight?

Take a moment to do this quick check:

  • You should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs if you run your fingers across your pet’s abdomen.
  • From the side, you should also be able to see a “tuck-in” or upward slope from the belly toward your pet’s hind end.
  • From the top view, your pet should have a visible waist behind the ribs.
  • If you can see your pet’s ribs, though, then your pet may be too thin.

Body condition score (or BCS) is another way we determine your pet’s ideal size and shape. We assign a score of 1 to 9, with 1 being too thin and 9 being obese. The ideal weight we’re aiming for is in the middle, at a 4 or 5.

Check out these charts from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association that show ideal body condition for healthy dogs and cats. Ideal weight varies, even among similarly sized dogs or cats. When you bring your pet in for a visit, we’ll show you how to gauge your pet’s weight and BCS.

The good news is that if your pet is at a healthy weight or gets back to an ideal BCS, you’ll be giving your pet the gift of better quality of life, less risk for certain diseases, and quite possibly a better chance of living longer.

Could my pet just have an underactive thyroid or some other medical condition?

It is possible, which is why your veterinarian will check your pet to rule out any medical causes that could be contributing to weight gain. However, most pets who are overweight have simply been eating more calories than they’ve burned.

How can we help your pet lose weight or keep weight off?

Following a well-balanced diet recommended by your veterinarian is a good start. At Vedder Mountain, we have several weight control diets to choose from.

Although you may have seen certain fad diets (such as grain-free and raw meat diets) promoted online, we do not recommend them. In fact, they can be dangerous for dogs and cats to consume.

Together, we’ll come up with a weight management plan that includes practical and achievable nutrition and exercise goals for your pet. We can also give you advice on helping to keep your pet feeling full while shedding pounds.

When your pet comes into Vedder Mountain for a check-in, we’ll make sure your pet is staying on track and help keep you motivated. Call us today to start your pet on a healthier path!


*According to an estimate from Dr. Jim Berry, past president of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. From Korducki K. Weight watchers: Canada’s pet obesity problem. Readers Digest Canada. Accessed April 15, 2020.

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