Raising Awareness on Animal Obesity

The issue of overweight pets and animal obesity has emerged as a significant concern within the veterinary community, with its prevalence alarmingly on the rise in recent years. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, the rates of overweight or obese pets stand at 41%. In Canada, the situation is even more dire, with rates surpassing 50%, and in the United States, the figures climb above 56%.

This indicates that over half of our pets could greatly benefit from weight loss, highlighting that a substantial number are not in optimal health, with their lives being jeopardized by a preventable and manageable condition.

Obesity significantly reduces life expectancy, exposing obese animals to heightened risks of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Moreover, overweight animals are more likely to encounter complications during and after surgical procedures compared to their healthier counterparts.

It's observed that dogs are more prone to obesity than cats, females more so than males, and older pets more than younger ones. Interestingly, a pet's excess weight often correlates with the owner's, with a lack of exercise being a common contributing factor.

Many pet owners inadvertently overfeed their pets, ignoring feeding guidelines or veterinary dietary advice. Free-feeding—allowing pets to eat whenever and however much they want—leads to calorie overconsumption. Treats and table scraps further add to the daily calorie intake, significantly impacting your pet's weight.

While it's possible to feed pets human food, it's crucial to know which foods are safe and the appropriate amounts to offer. Awareness of potentially harmful or toxic foods, such as grapes and chocolate, is also vital.

Let's consider the daily calorie needs of indoor pets engaging in moderate activity (equivalent to a brisk 30-minute walk):


  • 10 pounds: 180 to 200 calories


  • 10 pounds: 200 to 275 calories
  • 20 pounds: 325 to 400 calories
  • 50 pounds: 700 to 900 calories

These requirements are for neutered or spayed pets; intact animals may have higher needs.

Your pet's energy requirements can vary based on breed, genetics, lifestyle, and activity level. It's essential to discuss these factors with your veterinarian to tailor a diet and exercise regimen that suits your pet.

Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining an optimal weight. Dogs should engage in at least 20 minutes of activity three times a day, with a mix of exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, or playing frisbee. Cats benefit from two 20-minute activity sessions daily, with activities like laser pointer chases to meet their exercise needs.

A pet at an ideal weight will have ribs that are easily felt but not seen, a waist that tucks in past the ribs, and an abdomen that doesn't sag. Consult your veterinarian for a body condition score assessment, akin to a BMI for humans.

In conclusion, ensuring your pet maintains a healthy weight can lead to a longer, more active, and happier life for your cherished companion. Obesity is a significant yet avoidable issue. Don't hesitate to seek your veterinarian's advice on managing your pet's health and weight, ensuring they remain healthy and joyful.