Latest News

Tips for Managing your Pet's Weight

The importance of managing your pet’s weight

Affecting two-thirds of Australians, obesity has an alarming impact on our pets which is often overlooked when it comes to pet health [1].

Over 90 per cent of pet parents don’t realise they have an overweight pet, with consumer trend data showing there has been a rise in searches (over 68,000) on pet obesity across Australia, which represents a 14.68 per cent rise year on year [2].

As the most prevalent, yet preventable, form of disease in Australian pets, PETstock Vet Dr Tara Morris gives her expert advice on how to identify weight changes in your fur-baby, and top tips to keep them in their healthiest shape.

What classifies as overweight?

Obesity occurs when there is an extreme excess and accumulation of body fat, which increases body weight. A healthy weight between breeds and animal species can vary, however, there is no universally agreed definition of overweight or obesity in animals.

How do you know if your pet is overweight?

Measuring body weight can be used as an approximate guide to determine whether a cat or dog is over their healthy weight for their size and breed. Pets are generally considered to be overweight when they’re 10-15 per cent over what they should usually weigh, and are considered obese when they weigh 15 per cent or more above that ideal.

Pet owners can also use touch and observations to determine whether areas of the body are at their healthy and optimal weight.

✔️ Check the ribs: If you can feel their ribs, it’s a good sign that your pet is not overweight.

✔️ The hourglass: Are you able to see your pet's waist between the ribs and the hips?

✔️ The tummy tuck: Regardless of species, your pet should never have a sagging (or bulging) tummy.

Complications of being overweight

Overweight pets tend to be less active, have shorter lifespans and a lower quality of a life

Joint pain and skin irritation are other common lifestyle complications. Further, serious medical health conditions are associated with being overweight, including heart disease, cardiac and respiratory diseases, diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis and liver and pancreatic diseases.

Alongside major health issues, overweight pets also increase their risk of complications during surgery and anaesthesia, infections, and even cancer.

Dr Tara’s weight prevention tips and strategies

There are uncontrollable factors which determine whether your pet is more susceptible to gaining weight. 

For example, female dogs are more likely to become overweight, as well as neutered pets due to a change of hormone levels in their body. The likelihood of gaining weight also increases with a pet's age as their energy output decreases.

However active choices at home can also play a role in maintaining your pet’s weight. 

Exercise and diet:

1. Consistent exercise can help pets manage the calories they consume. This means daily walks for dogs, and safe climbing or jumping indoor spaces for cats.

2. Aim for a nutritious, balanced and portion-controlled diet, and stick to the recommended daily intake on the food packaging.

3. Be mindful of what you are feeding your pets. For cats and dogs, consider keeping a consistent base meal of 80 percent good quality dry food, and the other 20 percent combining wet tin food or a mix of homemade treats, fresh veggies or meat.

4. Treats stack up quickly, so ensure these calories are counted in your pet’s overall daily intake, or try less calorie dense substitutes, like carrot sticks.


1. Pets can mindlessly graze towards old food even after mealtime. Try to keep all meals fresh and avoid overeating habits by discarding old food left after an hour.

2. Avoid uncontrolled feeding. This includes scraps from the table, excessive rewards, or overcompensating on treats after a day of being away from home.

3. Communicate with other members of your family to ensure that everyone is on board with the correct amount they should be feeding your pet.

What if my pet is already overweight or obese?

A proactive weight loss plan may need to be developed to get them back into a healthy range, but remember, undergoing weight loss must be a gradual process, and conducted under the supervision of a qualified pet professional.

If you suspect that your pet is overweight or obese, consult a local vet who will be able to develop a diet plan and assist in sustaining your pet’s weight goals over the long term.

Related Stories:

Canine Arthritis & Joint Mobility Issues


No comments

Post a Comment