Pet Obesity – does your pet need a New Year diet?


The nation’s pets are getting fatter and as with humans, that comes with a long list of health implications. Lots of us make New Year resolutions to lose weight and get fit but should our pets be joining in too?


Our aim is to support owners in their efforts to get their pets looking slimmer, being healthier and feeling bouncier.


Most of this information relates to dogs and cats but rabbits and guinea pigs are also prone to weight gain. If you want advice on managing weight in these species then you arrange an appointment with one our nursing team.




What health risks are associated with pet obesity?shutterstock_113408662

There are too many to discuss but there are some we see very commonly which we’d like to mention:

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Diabetes
  3. Heart and respiratory disease
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Increased risks with anaesthetics and surgeries
  6. Prone to infections


Overweight pets can also be depressed as they are unable to exercise properly and do all the things a healthy dog/cat should be able to do. Obesity is a welfare issue and without a doubt your pet will be happier for being leaner.


How do I know if my pet is overweight?

Compare your pet to this body condition score chart. Score 3 is the ideal weight. You should start a weight loss plan if your dog scores a 4 or 5.

If your not sure of your pet’s score then bring him/her along to the surgery and have one our nurses weigh and assess your pet’s weight for free.

Score 1  – Ribs, spine and pelvic bone easily visible, no palpable fat along rib cage and obvious loss of muscle mass.

Score 2 – Ribs, top of spine and pelvic bone visible, no palpable fat along rib cage, obvious tucked up abdomen (waist)

Score 3 – Ribs, spine and pelvic bone not visible but easy to feel, thin layer of fat along rib cage. Visible waist from above and tucked up appearance from the side

Score 4 – Ribs difficult to palpate, moderate fat layer along rib case and at tail base. No waist visible.

Score 5 – Cannot palpate ribs, heavy layering of fat, rounded abdomen.



How do I get my pet to lose weight?

Well, the principles are much the same as with humans, eat less and do more exercise, but we appreciate this is always easier said than done so we have some suggestions to try and make your pets weight loss regime a success.

1. Increase exercise

  • Dogs – increasing number and length of walks is an obvious step but for some dogs this is not possible especially if they have joint problems. Swimming is a really good source of exercise and is suitable for many arthritic patients as well. Be careful swimming unfit dogs in rivers/sea in case of currents. Hydrotherapy centres offer a safe and controlled way of swimming and are available throughout the country.
  • Cats – bit more difficult with cats as you can’t walk them out for a walk and not many cats like to swim. Try to encourage your cat to play and chase and even better if you can get them to run up and down the stairs. Pen lights are great as cats love to chase the light (be careful not to shine it directly in their eyes though).


2. Reduce food intakethe amount by which you should reduce the diet will vary between patients and we would recommend you have a free consultation with the nurse to have this assessed.

  • Weigh it out – weigh out your pet’s food for the day don’t just guess as we are far more likely to overfeed this way. You can then split this amount into two meals if preferred and use some of the allocated amount as treats.
  • Cut out treats! – most owners don’t understand why their pet is overweight because they only feed small meals. Usually it’s the treats, little biscuits given when we go out, when on a walk, before bed, they all add up and if you compare it to us having a small piece of cake each time, it’s hardly surprising the weight goes on. If you still want to give your dog a treat then take it out of their daily food allocation or use raw carrot as a healthy alternative.obesity-management-dry_largeobesity-management-wet_large

3. Prescription weight loss diet – veterinary diets designed to have a reduced calorie density and are proven to be more successful than just cutting back on your dog’s usual food. You need an appointment with the nurse before starting this diet so that your pets needs can be assessed.

4. Weight loss drugs – not used routinely but are appropriate in some cases. Used when rapid weight loss is required for health reasons. This must be prescribed by a vet.

If you think your pet is overweight and you would like us to help you make a diet plan then please get in touch. We can monitor your pets progress and design a plan that suits your lifestyle and your pet’s requirements. Just phone 01543 262464.





Pool House Vets