How Do I Know if My Cat or Dog Is Overweight?

Is your pet a healthy weight

It’s easy to determine if your dog is overweight or your cat is obese. Follow these three steps to do a body score check at home.  

Body Score Steps

1) Feel for ribs

“Run your fingers along the ribs, both sides, and see how easily you can palpate those ribs, feel them. In an ideal body-condition score, it should feel like running your fingers over pencils in a breast pocket,” says Purina veterinarian Dr. Zara Boland. Using your hands is important. Looking isn’t enough to determine if your dog or cat is overweight since her coat of may make a visual check difficult.

2) Check the waist

 “The next thing you want to feel is a nice waistline.” An overweight dog or overweight cat won’t have “an hourglass shape when you look down from above and you can feel that by running your hands along the ribs and they should tuck in as soon as you reach the end of the ribs and come to the waist. It’s ideal body-condition score for us, we want the same for our pets,” says Boland.

3) Take a side view 

“And the last thing you’re looking for is what we call a tummy-tuck. So when you view your pet from the side, you want the tummy to tuck up backwards towards the hind legs. We don’t want a hanging belly-we’re looking a nice, neat, tummy-tuck,” says Boland. That said it’s also important to know if your cat or dog’s breed makes them appear overweight. Your veterinarian can provide insight on this.

It’s Time to Make Changes 

If the body check indicates your cat is too large or your dog is overweight, it's time to change the routine and habits you’ve set. Just like you, weight loss for your cat or dog comes down to calories. To shed pounds, your cat will need to burn more calories than she consumes, and your dog will need to do the same. Look to make a change to both diet and exercise for successful results.

Reduce calories: 

Empty calories—ones that do not have health benefit--add up quickly. Select a food that is complete and balanced and cut out all extra calories:

  • Eliminate table scraps
  • Limit treats (no more than 10% of daily calories)
  • Feed foods with balanced nutrition
  • Consider a healthy weight management food for dogs or cat
  • Develop a holistic dietary plan with your vet

Increase exercise indoors and outdoors: 

Cats and dogs both enjoy being active. Stimulate them inside or outside to build muscle strength, burn calories and promote fitness:

  • Take long walks or run and hike regularly
  • Create indoor challenges for climbing and jumping
  • Present stimulating/interactive toys that simulate hunting


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