The Skinny on Chubby Pets

Eco Lassie is always dieting. As more Americans confront their own weight issues, it seems their pets are affected, too. New data out last week showed the problem with overweight house pets has reached what is called “epidemic” proportions, with over 50% of American house dogs and cats overweight or obese.

“Obese” in pets is defined as 30% above their normal weight. The main causes are exactly what you’d think: owners overfeed their pets, and don’t exercise them enough. Owners with pet insurance have made it possible to track some of the costs of medical problems this causes their pets. In 2010, $25 million dollars was paid to vets for obesity-related conditions.

These include ligament ruptures, disc disease, and asthma. Other common problems your pet can endure with too much weight to carry around are diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure and high blood pressure.

How can you tell if your pet is carting around too many pounds to be healthy? Try to feel your pet’s ribs. Can you find them easily or do you have to root around? Check out a side view of your pet. That hanging belly indicates excess fats. Cats whose bellies drag on the floor are called “swishers” and this is not the way to keep your floors clean! Finally, look at your pet from above. You should be able to see a moderate tapered look of a ‘waistline’ instead of a flat, broad back.

What can pet owners do to avoid overfeeding their pets? Increasing  exercise and decreasing portion size usually is the first and easiest step. A high-protein and fiber, low-fat diet helps. Cutting back on snacks and table scraps is another big area to consider. If your pet needs a snack, try steamed veggies. Buy biscuits in the smallest size, no matter the size of your pet, and break them in half. Finally, calculating calories will help you to figure out the right portion size for your pet.

Don’t forget, commercial pet food companies want to sell their food and want you to use it up quickly. Their label recommendations may be too much portion size for your pet, especially if Fifi or Max has been neutered or spayed, or gets little exercise. Like ease, or leaving your pet at a kennel or with a sitter? Hill’s Pet Nutition, Inc. which makes Science Diet and Prescription Diet foods, has a line of weight-reduction food systems with meals and biscuits in pre-measured packets.

Increase exercise for your pet. Even chasing a toy or a laser pointer is good for your inside cat. Large breed dogs need 30-60 minutes of play or a walk of 2-3 miles a day to remain fit; smaller breeds 15-30 minutes. Cats need shorter bursts of activity several times a day; 5-15 minutes of toy chasing will keep Lola slim.

You can check calories for many food brands at: Here are some typical stats:

Labrador retriever: 55-75 lbs; 980-1,300 daily calories

Beagle: 18-30 lbs; 380-575 cal.

Yorkshire terrier: under 7 lbs; 180-200 cal.

German shepherd dog: 75-95 lbs; 1,300-1,650 cal.

Golden Retriever: 55-75 lbs; 980-1,300 cal.

Cats: standard, 8-12 lbs, with males 2-4 lbs heavier than females. Larger breeds, such as a Maine Coon cat, may be fine at 18 lbs.

Now that you know the facts, you can assess your pet’s weight, keep them healthier, and most of all, have their companionship to a ripe old age.

Don’t forget about the Eco Women’s blog anniversary giveaway! Leave a comment on this post until 11:59 p.m. EST tonight.

Neither Eco Lassie nor Eco Women receive any consideration from noted companies.

This entry was posted in eco pets, food, health, Uncategorized by auntiemwrites. Bookmark the permalink.

About auntiemwrites

I'm a retired RN, full-time writer who lives in a very rural area in coastal NC. I live here with Doc and our 7 yr old Spinone, Radar. We have 3 grown married sons. On a daily basis we see deer, tons of birds including blue birds and woodpeckers, shore birds and the occasional black bear, and love living on the Pungo River, perfect for a writer. My award-wininng mystery, THE BLUE VIRGIN, is set in Oxford, UK, and is the first of a series featuring American Nora Tierney. Book 2, THE GREEN REMAINS, follows Nora's move to Cumbria. Book 3, THE SCARLET WENCH, has her getting mixed up in murder yet again!

9 thoughts on “The Skinny on Chubby Pets

  1. Terrific!
    Any suggestions for our door cats and getting more exercise..that seems like an onymoron..but I have one who just hangs around..even my others play ball and catch..but the outdoor “couch potato”
    Thanks HAve a purr-fect day!!

  2. I’m totally sending this to my husband who is underexercising “his dog.”
    And I’m glad to report we went early on to a trainer who taught us well about the dangers of table scraps and treats.

  3. Our pup, Daisy, was overweight (though no obese, thankfully). The culprit was a little overfeeding (though we were following the directions on the package of dog food!) and having just been fixed. Now we feed her half the amount of dog food we were feeding her before, plus green beans, peas, and carrots. She gets 1/2 can of no salt added green beans with dinner, carrots as snacks, and peas on occasion. She LOVES it! And now she’s a healthy girl.

  4. Thanks for this!

    I can’t tell you how many people comment on how “skinny” my golden retriever is. Some even think he’s an Irish Setter because he’s so trim.

    Before I got him, I did so much reading about proper diet and nutrition. I bypassed all of the grocery store food and went with grain-free, human-grade food. When he’s next to other goldens around the same age, he looks like he’s still a puppy. Not having a yard (I’m in a condo) means his outdoor time involves us. We’re walking or playing when he needs to go out, not just opening a back door.

    Here’s hoping that what we’re doing keeps him with us for many more years to come. 🙂

    • J, some vets feel you can add up to six years to a pets life, breed dependent, if you can control their weight! We do a BARF diet at our house, bones and raw food. My 15 yr old rescue mutt is still going strong, despite arthritis, being deaf and almost blind. Our 3 yr old Spinone still has puppy breath! And with that kind of diet, their stools turn white in a few days and compost themselves into the ground! Most prepared dog foods have too high a grain content and not enough protein.

  5. My vet told me to feed my cats only half of the amount listed on the cat food container. Unfortunately, we have very resourceful cats who have learned to fish food out of the compost container. They are also happy to eat peaches, pears, and tomatoes from the bowl on the kitchen counter.

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