How to keep your pet a healthy weight

It can be tricky to keep our furry friends at their ideal weight, especially if they love their food! Whether your pet has a fluffy coat to hide their waistline, or the family sneak them extra treats, our guide to keeping your pet in tip-top shape will help them to stay fit and healthy.

How much should my cat/dog weigh?

The ideal weight for your pet can be tricky to answer! Pets come in all shapes and sizes, and both age and whether your pet is a boy or girl can affect their body weight. An average cat should weigh around 4kg, but a large breed like the Maine Coon should be closer to 7kg. Then compare an average 2kg Chihuahua to a 70kg St. Bernard dog!

Even within the same breed individual variation means it definitely isn’t a case of one size fits all!  For this reason, rather than talking about how much your pet weighs, vets have devised a body condition score system. This looks at how much fat there is in different areas of the body – more like your waist measurement – rather than just focussing on what the scales say.

pet weights

The world’s heaviest pets are…

The heaviest dog, Zorba the English Mastiff, weighed in at 156kg!

The heaviest cat, a tabby cat called Himmy, weighed 21.3kg!

Body condition scores for dogs and cats

A body condition score is a hands-on way of assessing the shape of your pet by feeling around their rib cage and abdomen, and looking at their overall shape. It helps you to pick up if they are over or under weight, even though the thickest of fur coats.

A great way to monitor the health of your pet is to body condition score them once a month and make a note of the result, so you can track their condition over time.

obese cat on scales

Dog, cat and pet obesity

Keeping your pet the pawfect weight is important for to help them lead long, happy lives. Obesity related diseases are common; overweight pets are more at risk of; liver, kidney and urinary disease; diabetes, arthritis and asthma; high blood pressure and heart disease; and even some cancers. Pet obesity is on the increase with 51% of dogs, 44% of cats and 29% of small mammals being classed as overweight or obese1. It’s our mission at easipetcare to help you keep your pets in purrfect health. We’re here to help you assess their body condition and come up with diet and exercise plans to match their needs and your lifestyle.

1 – https://www.pfma.org.uk/_assets/docs/White%20Papers/PFMA-Obesity-Report-2019.pdf

Why is my dog, cat or rabbit overweight?

Obesity occurs when more calories are being eaten than are being used by the body, e.g. for exercise, growth and healing. It really is a case of calorie balance – what goes in must be used up to stay a stable weight. Its sounds straight forward, but it is a dynamic balance and your pet will require different amounts of food depending on their life stage, lifestyle and general health. We’re here to advise how you can adjust their diet and/or exercise to help them to reach and stay at their optimum weight.

pet weight advice

Preventing obesity in your dog/cat

When it comes to obesity, prevention is better than cure as it can be hard to shift excess weight. Diet requirements will vary during life stage and activity levels, so it’s important to monitor the trend in weight over time. Adjustments can then be made early once the extra ounces start to mount up. For example, reducing the amount of food your cat gets in winter will help to compensate for the fact they’re less active and burning fewer calories. Feeding the correct food for life stage and activity levels is important, as more calories are needed while young animals are growing, but their calorie intake should be lower in their senior <Link to senior article> years.

preventing pet obesity

Weight loss for cats

If your cat is overweight, it’s can be a challenge to slim them down. We have less control over their exercise levels than we do with dogs, and in a multi-cat household it’s tricky to separate out food. Also, cats have a habit of hunting or visiting neighbours to help themselves to seconds! There are a few things we can do to encourage weight loss:

  • Feed a diet food – a lower calorie food will help your cat to feel full, but without a high calorie count.
  • Reduce the amount of food – this can be hard if your cat is very food-oriented and they may make their displeasure known with begging behaviours. It’s important to weigh their food, then reduce gradually by 10%. Never starve your cat as this can cause medical problems.
  • Scatter feed – this can encourage activity as your cat has to find the food.
  • Puzzle feeders – these toys require time and effort to deliver food, encouraging activity and slower feeding.
  • Tell the neighbours – if your cat needs to lose a few pounds it might be an idea to give your neighbours the heads up in case they’ve been giving your cat the odd treat.
  • Cut down on treats – some cat treats are equivalent to doughnuts for humans in terms of calorie content!
  • Increase playtime – some cats love chase and pounce games. Introduce some fun areas for them to explore; even a cardboard box or tube can make a great game of hide and seek.
  • Be patient – it takes time and dedication as weight loss should be a slow, steady process. We’re here to help and encourage you as you and your cat journey towards the purrfect profile.

Weight loss for dogs

  • If your dog is overweight you can increase their exercise help burn the calories. If your dog has obesity related heart disease or arthritis it is important to check with the vet before changing their exercise pattern.
  • Increase play time – aim for 15 minutes of active play once or twice a day. New toys can help to keep your dog entertained and interested.
  • Feed a diet food – a lower calorie food will help your dog to feel full, but without a high calorie count.
  • Reduce the amount of food – this can be hard if your dog is very food-oriented and they may make their displeasure known with begging behaviours. It’s important to weigh their food, then reduce gradually by 10%.
  • Scatter feed – this can encourage activity as your dog has to find the food.
  • Puzzle feeders – these toys require time and effort to deliver food, encouraging activity and slower feeding.
  • Cut down on treats – swap treats for low calorie bites like carrot or kibble from their daily portion allowance as ‘treats’.
  • Be patient – it takes time and dedication as weight loss should be a slow, steady process. We’re here to help and encourage you as you and your dog journey towards the pawfect pooch profile.

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