Obesity and Your Pet

Obesity and Your Pet

By Dr. Bob Parrish on Aug 09, 2018

During one of our recent vaccine clinics, a dog owner with a rather “portly” pooch asked a CVPC team member if they thought her dog was “fat”. In the most diplomatic way possible, the team member confessed what was obvious to everyone (well, to everyone except the pet owner herself, who wanted to argue that her dog was just “fluffy” and “big boned”).  “Sorry, ma’am, but your dog is fat.” While we scratched our head wondering why our customer asked the question in the first place, when it was so apparent to everyone else that her dog was grossly overweight, it occurred to me that to some people, obesity is the new norm.  

I’m not buying it.

Just as obesity has become dangerously epidemic among the American population, it is becoming a tragically serious issue with pets as well. A survey conducted nearly 10 years ago revealed that among house dogs, over 55% were overweight. I think it is fair to say that those numbers have only gotten worse in the past decade.

While there can be medical issues responsible for unwanted weight gain (particularly thyroid deficiencies in older dogs, as well as hormonal changes in spayed and neutered pets ~ which leads to a whole other article in the near future), most of the obesity problems we see are the result of our personal interaction with our beloved furry friends. Unquestionably, many pet owners are “killing them with kindness”. While we hate to use this terminology, it definitely rings true.

Remember: We get to choose what we eat.
We make choices with our food ~ for better or worse ~ each and every day.
But with rare exception,
pets don’t get to choose what to eat; they will eat what you give them.  

For those of you with dogs and cats that you know to be overweight, please read my handout offering a (hopefully) different take on weight loss strategies.

NOTE: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, your pet will benefit greatly by being at a healthy weight. Here is a list of benefits from the AMVA.org website:

  • lowers his/her risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and some forms of cancer
  • reduce the risks of injury to bones, joints and muscles that are associated with excess weight
  • healthy weight makes it easier to manage the discomfort associated with joint pain
  • keeping your pet trim gives them the best chance of a longer, healthier, and pain-free life


Healthy weight isn’t simply a number on a scale; it’s about healthy body composition.

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