How To Tell If Your Dog Or Cat Is Overweight

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Your cat can be roused from the deepest sleep in her sun-drenched spot on the sofa for the rattle of a treat bag. Your pooch's sad-puppy eyes make it hard to deny feeding him just one more bite of your burger. We love to indulge our pets, but all that extra food can mean they might be gaining too much weight. Odds are your pet may weigh too much since about 60 percent of cats, and 56 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

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To get an exact measure of just how much your pet should weigh, your vet is your best bet. But there are simple ways to get a sense of if your dog or cat has a weight problem just by giving them the once over.

Look at your pet's physique

If you can see your dog's or cat's ribs, your pet is underweight. But just because their ribs shouldn't be prominent doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to feel them under their fur. If you can't count the ribs by feel, your pet may be overweight.


Another way to check is to peer down on your cat or dog while you're both standing. If your pet is an ideal weight, you should see an hourglass figure or a slight indentation at the waist. Your pet is overweight if you look down, and his body is an oval shape.

Another way to eyeball if your pet is fat is to check out his abdomen. The stomach area should tilt slightly upward when viewed from the side. If you see a beer belly swaying toward the floor, that's a sign of excess weight.

The weigh-in

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Every pet has an ideal weight, but there are some guidelines to help you determine if your dog or cat is in the right weight range. For larger dogs, you may have to take them to the vet to use their large floor scale. But if you have a cat or small dog, you can hold your pet while you step on the scale. Then weigh yourself and subtract that from the total weight of you and your pet.


Domestic mixed-breed cats should weigh 8 to 010 pounds, while specific breeds can weigh a bit more or less because of their size. Siamese should weight 5 to 10 pounds, while the Persians' ideal weight is 7-to-12 pounds. The robust Maine coon cat can weigh anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds.

Dogs vary in weight greatly by breed. Labrador retrievers should weigh 65 to 80 pounds, while a beagle's weight range is 18-to-30 pounds. A boxer's ideal weight is 50 to 75 pounds, and Bulldogs should weigh 40 to 50 pounds. Small dogs like miniature dachshunds should weigh just 8 to 10 pounds, while miniature poodles should weigh 11 to 17 pounds.


Why weight is important

Just like other animals, cats and dogs can be susceptible to weight-related illnesses such as osteoarthritis, type-2 diabetes, kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and more. With these diseases come higher vet bills and a diminished quality of life for your pet.

Putting your pet on a diet

If you determine your pet is overweight, work with your vet to determine exactly how much food your pet needs to eat to lose excess pounds slowly. Roughly, cats need 180 to 200 calories a day to maintain their weight. Dogs' caloric needs are generally higher: 325 to 400 calories for a 20-pound dog, and 700 to 900 calories for a dog whose ideal weight is 50 pounds.


One key to feeding the right amount is measuring dry food in a measuring cup. Many owners pour food into a dish without knowing how much they've just given their pet. They also hand out high-calorie, high-fat treats throughout the day. Reigning in these feeding patterns can help pets become a healthy weight.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.