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essential nutrition advice for your pet.

How Can You Tell Your Pet is Overweight?


There’s another way to tell if your pet is overweight, and that’s by using the new, science based Healthy Weight Protocol, which was created by Hill’s Pet Nutrition in conjunction with veterinary nutritionists at the University of Tennessee.


This tool is “brilliant,” says Hughes, who likes it because it’s objective.


How does the protocol work? A vet takes measurements — four for a dog and six for a cat — then inputs them into a computer. The computer then determines the animal’s body fat index. By comparing this with a chart, the vet can tell you exactly how much weight your pet needs to lose if it is overweight.


“It’s much more specific and scientific than me saying a pet looks like he should lose two to five pounds,” Hughes says. “With this, we can determine exactly how many pounds pets should lose and how many calories they need per day.”


If you’re going it alone with your pet’s weight loss — and Dr. Dobies does recommend that pets have a physical with their vet every six months — you can weigh your pet on a scale, if they are small enough, he says, and monitor the weight over time.


Helping Your Pet Burn the Extra Pounds


If a dog or cat is overweight, cut their food intake by 25 percent, Dr. Dobies advises, and increase their exercise level gradually day by day.


“Don’t leave it up to the dog,” he says, “but make sure he gets out on the leash. Gradually you want to build up to a 30-minute walk, twice a day.”


It’s harder to force cats to exercise, he adds, so play with them more if you can, with kitty toys or a laser pointer, for example. But also recognize that cats are at their most active when the sun is rising and setting, so if you can play with them during these hours, you’ll be most effective.


Dr. Dobies also cautions against letting your kitty lose weight too fast. Rapid weight loss can lead to fatty liver syndrome (hepatic lipidosis), which can cause her to go into liver failure.


Having your pet exercise may also mean you don’t have to reduce his food as significantly, especially as his endurance builds up — and maybe soon you’ll have an hourglass figure, too.


More to Explore

5 Reasons Your Dog is Extremely Hungry

Pet Nutrition in People Terms

10 Simple Ways to Help Your Overweight Dog

How to Exercise with Your Dog

Comments  3

Leave Comment
  • 09/10/2013 05:38pm

    One of my cats was overweight and seemed to be hungry all of the time. I finally decided to take her outside for 10 minutes every day, even if she just sat on the porch. Almost immediately she seemed to be less hungry. I figure she was just simply bored and eating was her remedy. I'm not sure she's lost much weight but at least she's not bugging me to feed her every time I got near the kitchen.

  • Only owners make fat pets
    09/10/2013 08:06pm

    I'm glad to see you addressing the pet obesity issue. Most of the dogs I see every day are overweight if not obese - the American public has NO idea what a healthy weight dog looks like anymore. It is easy to keep a dog at a proper weight, too. Just don't feed them as much and exercise them more.

    I disagree about not being able to see any ribs though. There is nothing wrong with seeing the last rib or two especially when the dog is inhaling. Having a leaner dog is much healthier and happier for the animal!

  • Fat belly...
    09/12/2013 12:50am

    My cat was EXTREMELY skinny when we got him. Hips, spine, and ribs prominent. He's doing much better at about 11.9-12.4 lbs. You can see the waist, but he still has that fat belly... (11 year old neutered male) Does anyone know if anything can be done for the belly? Or is he stuck with it. I feel bad, we laugh at him when he goes trotting around and it wags back and forth, LOL!

Is My Pet Fat?

Did you know as little as 1 pound of extra weight can be harmful for your dog or cat? Take our quiz to test your knowledge on weight issues and solutions for pets.


  • Question 1 of 5

  • 1. The ribs of a healthy pet should be easily felt.

    • True

    • False