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Why are so many dogs overweight?

I have to wonder why so many dogs in the United States are overweight, and one reason is the owners just can’t see it.

They see their fat dogs every day, so they see their fat dogs as “normal.”

Plus, a dog’s weight gain is often gradual, and the owner might not notice the change.

I follow the blog, which focuses on health and fitness for dogs.

SlimDoggy wrote a post about a pet obesity study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

This study found that 52.9 percent of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, which is actually less than what I would’ve guessed.

However, the scary statistic from the study is that 95 percent of the owners of fat dogs thought their dogs were at a normal weight.

Yikes. Are my pets fat and I don’t know it?

See my post, would you tell your friend if her dog is fat?

Why are so many dogs fat

I work really hard to keep my dog and cats at a lean body weight. It’s the easiest thing I can do to control their health.

Sure, my indoor cats could definitely stand to lose a little (see below), but I’m aware of it and working on it. How about the rest of you? Do you feel like you’re aware of your pets’ weights?

While I can’t afford the healthiest food for myself or my pets, just being lean decreases our risks for so many issues like:

  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • diabetes

I’m not saying my pets won’t have health issues if they’re lean. Fit pets can still get cancer. I’m just saying maintaining a lean body mass does decrease some risks. At least a little.

One of the most obvious signs, to me, of a fat dog is when the dog is panting all the time from carrying the extra weight.

Other signs could be:

  • trouble keeping up on easy walks, even when it’s cool
  • stiffening in the joints from carrying extra weight
  • panting even when the dog is lying down and the AC is blasting
  • the dog has low energy overall

Obviously, the above could be caused by all sorts of reasons such as allergies, injuries or natural aging.

But just being overweight is also a real possibility.

If your dog is panting all the time or if your cat is lying around as though holding his body up is too much work, take a look.

Is your pet FAT?!

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a video my husband posted of our cat Beamer. Yes, Beamer could lose some weight!

My cat takes his comi-con characters seriously #comicon #catsofinstagram #jabbathehutt

A video posted by @joshswhitford on

‘You can’t exercise your way out of a poor diet’

While exercise is important, what I want to stress is you can’t exercise your way out of a poor diet.

SlimDoggy also had a great post on this topic.

For example, a normal 50-pound dog will burn around 900 calories per day just existing and moving around the house, according to SlimDoggy.

If the same dog exercises lightly for 30 minutes, he would burn just 50 to 100 extra calories.

Most calories are not burned by exercise.

“Although exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy body and weight, the math shows that it is extremely hard to burn off the extra calories that result from overfeeding,” according to SlimDoggy.

Read SlimDoggy’s post here.

So, do you want your dog to lose weight?

My dog Ace

Cut back on his food.

Just cut back on the treats or cut back on his meals just 5 or 10 percent.

There’s no need to switch brands for the sake of weight loss. Just feed less. Continue on your walks or runs too, but feed less.

And you do measure your dog’s food, right?

It’s great that so many dog owners are measuring their dogs’ meals. However, it’s easy to get obsessive about feeding the exact same amount every single day.

If the dog had extra treats that day, it’s a good idea to feed him a little less than normal at dinner vs. mindlessly feeding the usual 2 cups or whatever it might be.

Feeding my dog homemade raw food has helped me become more aware of his weight because he doesn’t eat the same amount of food for every meal. I watch his weight and feed a little more or a little less accordingly.

Maintaining a lean body mass does not guarantee anything for people or dogs, but it sure is one way to increase the chances of staying healthy.

Do you agree with all this?

What are some ways you keep your dog or cat at a lean body weight?

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Sunday 29th of April 2018

If you feed less than what the bag says then they aren’t getting the nutrition either. Trade out the high carb food for a few raw zero carb meals, that should help. Mine are all raw, only carbs are green vegs that I make.

Sandy Weinstein

Wednesday 15th of June 2016

i get really upset over this b/c there is no need for our pets to be fat. it is in our control. if you love them you will make sure they are a healthy weight and eat correctly. i watch my girls weight and if they have a little too much on the side, it is diet time. i cut down on the treats and food. i dont think people realize that they are killing their pets, shortening their lives and causing major health problems. i know when i start to gain weight, which i have recently b/c i had major surgery in jan and have still not been able to do much, i try to watch what i eat. i dont want to get fat either. what i find is strange though, when i go to dog shows some dogs are heavier for show dogs than others in a different breed. i know my what i consider to be a little heavy for my girls would be fine in the show ring. however, when i see a different breed that is really lean in the show ring, they will not be like if they were not a show dog. just like race horses and show horses, when they are no longer racing or not showing they tend to put on more weight. they are not heavy or fat, just not lean and mean. i also tend to feed my girls more veggie treats, like steamed baby carrots instead of regular treats.


Tuesday 24th of May 2016

Man I feel lucky, I don't do portion control with my dogs. I fill a bowl and they eat a little here and a little there on their own. They are not overweight, complete opposite. But they are also working dogs. Which I'm sure helps. They grew up eating when I would so it was light snacks throughout the day and a few small to mid sized meals depending on how hard we had worked.

Vets in Cheshire

Friday 25th of September 2015

People always seem to find it amusing when they see a fat dog waddling about, but there's a real health risk as your article points out. Dogs will always eat whatever is put in front of them and to feed them to an unhealthy weight through over treating them is almost negligent.


Tuesday 25th of August 2015

Love this! I get told almost daily at the dog park that Tucker is too thin, but thanks to his tendon injury last year and we think he has mild hip dysplasia, the vet has given us a target weight of 65-68 lbs and he's at 68. So the vet has ok'd his weight, but as a leggy American lab he already looks thin, and next to the plump labs at the park, people always comment about it. I always want to tell them that their dogs are fat!!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 25th of August 2015

Oh gosh! I hear ya. I see so many Labs waddling around at the beach, and I always think to myself ... how can their owners let them get so fat?

I'm glad your pup is lean.