How Your Overweight Pet Could Benefit from Foods Low in Caloric Density

By PetMD Editorial on Aug. 24, 2012

Low Caloric Pet Foods for Overweight Dogs and Cats

Pet obesity has reached epidemic proportions. In fact, veterinarians estimate that over 50% of our pets — over 40 million! — are either overweight or obese. This excess weight can lead to a number of different health issues for your pet as well as shorten their life span. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help your pet shed off that extra weight.

Why is My Pet Overweight?

It should come as little surprise that pets become overweight for the same reasons that people do. One cause is overeating; the other is lack of exercise. Moreover, it is usually a combination of overeating and lack of exercise that lead to an overweight pet.

And just as we can lose weight by consuming fewer calories, exercising and eating a balanced diet, so can our pets — though it does require some commitment on your part.

Lean Pet Foods and Treats

Low calorie pet foods and treats are great for the overweight dog or cat that is hungry all the time. Low calorie pet foods generally consist of lean protein sources such as chicken or whitefish as well as whole grains; low calorie treats include things as fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots. When compared to simply reducing the amount of food offered to your pet, feeding a lower calorie diet allows your pet to consume a larger quantity of food during the course of the day and feel more satiated.

It is, however, important to consult your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist before altering your pet's diet. They will be able to formulate a balanced weight loss diet that is appropriate and safe for your pet. For instance, even though grapes, raisins and onions are healthy for humans, they can be toxic for our pets.


Walking, running, or other strenuous activities with your dog 5-7 days a week for at least 30-60 minutes per day will also contribute to weight loss. As for cats, they need exercise too, but more in the form of play. Try setting aside 15-20 minutes a day and chase him or her with a feather or use a laser pointer to get your cat to move around the house. Cats also enjoy exercise like stalking, pouncing, climbing and hiding that allows them to mimic the behavior of their wild counterparts. It may not seem like exercise, but your cat is burning calories.

The type and amount of exercise needed can differ greatly with breed, age and energy level of your pet. So consult your veterinarian in order to establish the appropriate exercise routine for your pet.

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