Maintaining pets at a healthy weight is important to your dog or cat’s overall wellbeing and longevity. Obesity increases the risk of osteoarthritis, diabetes, kidney disease, certain cancers, heart and respiratory disease, and other health conditions that can impact our pets.[1]

The caloric needs of individual pets, even those of similar size, can vary significantly. Age, lifestyle, activity level, breed, and whether the animal is spayed or neutered all can affect the number of calories needed to maintain a healthy weight of a cat or dog. The calorie content of different pet food products is also variable.

It is important to follow the feeding directions listed on a product label. Feeding directions for a pet food are based upon the levels of nutrients and calories recommended for populations of pets, e.g., life stage.

Pet lovers should be able to recognize signs that their dog or cat may be overweight.  Click through for some additional images to help identify the ideal size of pets, and what an underweight or overweight pet may look like. Make sure to feel your pet’s body with your hand, since fur can hide the shape.

If an animal begins to put on extra weight, then it may be appropriate to make a small reduction in the amount of food given daily. Likewise, if a pet is losing body condition, then a small increase may be advisable. Your veterinarian is the best source for information about your pet’s weight management.