According to research conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2015, approximately 54 percent of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight, making it the leading nutritional disorder in both species. Learn why being at an ideal body condition is beneficial to your pet and find out how you can help your overweight cat or overweight dog lose the weight.
A pet can become overweight when excess energy is converted into fat and stored in the dog or cat's connective tissue. This accumulation of body fat may be gradual over many years or it may be rapid, depending on the difference between energy intake and energy use.
Overweight dogs and overweight cats aren’t typically made overnight. Dogs and cats can become overweight for a number of reasons including:
- Excess caloric intake is the most common cause. The pet consumes too much food, like excessive treats or table scraps, and does not expend the energy required to use the calories and maintain ideal body condition.
- Genetic predisposition may be a contributing factor, especially in certain breeds. For example, Labrador Retrievers and Beagles seem to be more susceptible to being overweight than some of the other sporting or working breeds.
If you believe your pet is overweight, an examination by your veterinarian is suggested. Any predisposing abnormalities can be diagnosed or treated, or your veterinarian may recommend a weight reduction program.
Weight Reduction Guidelines
The following feeding guidelines for overweight cats and overweight dogs, and those who have the tendency to become overweight, are presented as suggestions. They are not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian.
- Reduce your pet's caloric intake. To accomplish this, you may choose a weight management formula, such as Purina® Pro Plan® FOCUS Weight Management, or an intermittent calorie restriction diet like Purina® Pro Plan® SIMPLY FIT™.
- Measure your pet’s food. Without measuring, it's easy to overfeed.
- Omit feeding food from the table. Often, eliminating feeding table scraps is sufficient to achieve the desired weight reduction. Keeping your pet away from the area where the food is being prepared and served helps retrain it not to beg for or expect table scraps.
- Do not feed high-calorie treats.
- If you are omitting table scraps or reducing the amount of food being offered, feed the daily amount in two or three servings. You will feed less, but help prevent your pet from feeling hungry and help keep him/her from begging.
- Do not allow your pet to have access to garbage cans or other sources of additional food. The cooperation of all family members is needed to help ensure a successful weight reduction program.
- Combine exercise with diet management.
- Make certain fresh drinking water in a clean bowl is available for your pet at all times.
If you change your overweight dog or overweight cat’s diet to a weight management formula, make the transition gradually over a seven-to-ten day period. Each day, feed a little less of the current food and a little more of new Purina® Pro Plan® formula until you’re feeding Purina® Pro Plan® exclusively. This gradual transition will help to avoid dietary upsets.
Dogs and cats should be at their recommended weight before breeding. Severe dietary restrictions during pregnancy may produce problems during gestation and lactation, which could be more severe than a weight problem.