What You Need to Know on National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

  • 3 Min Read

Sliding your beloved pet table scraps and the more-than-occasional treat might actually be causing more harm than good. In 2021, about 40% of dog owners and 45% of cat owners considered their pets overweight or obese. 

October 12th is ‘National Pet Obesity Awareness Day,’ which helps raise awareness about the negative impact excess weight can have on pets. Keep reading to learn about some of the health risks obese pets face and to get a few tips on how to ensure your pet remains a healthy weight.

Health Risks

Often framed as “cute” rather than concerning, pets above their ideal weight can suffer from serious health issues. Contrary to some beliefs, pet nutrition goes beyond just ensuring they have enough food—too much can push them into obesity. 

Each pet is different, and it can be hard to find a single consensus on how much your furry friend should weigh. However, finding a range and trying to keep your pet within that range can increase your pet’s life by nearly two years. The ideal range can vary based on breed, gender, and other pet-specific factors.

If overweight, dogs are susceptible to numerous diseases and conditions. These include faster joint deterioration, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Sometimes, overweight pets can result from a disease rather than a cause (such as an underactive thyroid), but diet and exercise generally play large roles in a pet’s weight.

Finding a Nutritional Balance

When it comes to food, you’re responsible for making sure your pet isn’t overeating. Some pets won’t stop eating even if they’ve had enough, so you must take an active role in how much your pet eats. Note that this doesn’t apply to every pet, and many free-feed and stop whenever they’re full. If your pet has a seemingly endless stomach, however, be mindful of the portions you’re feeding them. 

Additionally, limiting the amount of snacks pets receive can help with unwanted weight gain. Many types of human food aren’t good for your pet anyway, which is another reason that giving pets table scraps should probably be a special treat every once in a while instead of the norm. Since most pets are much smaller than humans, something that’s “just one little bite” to you might take a larger toll on your pet’s body.

Switching your dog or cat to the right kind of food can be beneficial to maintaining a healthy weight. You might want to consider moving your pet to a raw diet, at least partially. Not only does this help with internal digestion and health, but you can also see the benefits in their skin and coat health. With fewer nutrients lost to processing, this could drastically improve your pet’s overall well-being, including their weight.

Getting Enough Exorcise

Exercise is the other major component of keeping your pets healthy. Without any action on your end, domesticated animals can fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Whether it be walking or even just playing with your pet, physical activity must be present every single day. 

Dog owners, consider the size, age, and breed of your pet, as exercise needs will vary depending on these factors. Larger dogs tend to need more exercise, as do dogs that were bred for endurance and work, such as shepherds, retrievers, collies, and many breeds of terriers.

You can also exercise your cat or dog through play! Playing with your pets is beneficial on two fronts: they get mentally stimulated and physically exercised. No matter how busy your day may be, try your hardest not to neglect this crucial component of your pet’s happiness.

Things to Remember

If you feel your pet is overweight or has trouble maintaining a healthy weight for some reason, reach out to your vet. They can help you develop a weight loss plan and see if any tests need to be done to determine if there’s an underlying medical problem.

Weight loss plans might include massive changes to your pet’s diet, but remember, you can’t just spring it on them. Animals are creatures of habit, and routines play an important role in your pets’ lives. 

As for exercise, investing just a few more minutes into playing with or walking your pet daily can make a world of difference.

Don’t let your pet suffer in silence from obesity! There is more to pet nutrition than just making sure your dog or cat has food to eat each day. Celebrate this National Pet Obesity Awareness Day by ensuring your pet is eating right, getting enough exercise, and is within their ideal weight range—it could add years to their life!

About The Author

Katherine Carbonaro Kat lives in a spooky house surrounded by farmland in Hillsborough, NC, and couldn't be happier! Her two beloved cats, MeNow and Mr. Bumbles were both bottle-fed and raised by her. Huxley, her faithful companion, is estimated to be around 16 years old but still enjoys his daily mile-long walks and occasional hikes, a testament to the power of proper nutrition. Long live Neighborhood Pet!