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VCA Big Pet Project Overweight Cat

Facts About Dog Obesity

Obesity is one of the TOP HEALTH RISKS in America*

53% of dogs in America are overweight or obese*


Overweight and obese dogs have an increased risk of:*
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Breathing Problems
  • Osteoarthritis Pain
  • Shortened Life Expectancy
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Kidney Disease

Nearly half of dog owners incorrectly identified their overweight or obese dogs as "normal weight".**


Healthy-weight pets can live up to 2.5 years longer than overweight pets

Healthy-Weight Cats Live Longer icon

Why are our dogs getting overweight?

Factors that cause obesity in pets:

  • Access to too much food
  • Poor quality food
  • Too many treats
  • Not enough exercise or play time

For a Chihuahua that should weigh 5 pounds, each extra pound is about the same as an extra 30 pounds for a 5'9" man.*

What's in a treat?*

  • To a medium-sized dog, one cookie can be the equivalent to eating a whole hamburger for you!
  • A premium pig ear to a 40-pound dog is the equivalent of six 12-ounce colas to an adult human.
  • A typical dog biscuit to a 20-pound dog is the equivalent of two double stuffed sandwich cookies to an average person.

What the ideal weight looks like

Ideal Dog Weight iconIdeal Dog Weight icon

  • Your dog's ribs should be slightly visible and easily felt behind the shoulder blades.
  • Looking from the side, the abdomen (just above the hind legs) should look 'tucked up' compared to the chest.
  • Looking from above, the abdomen should be slimmer than the chest and the hips, forming an hourglass figure.
  • See our breed information to find out the ideal weight for your dog's breed.

Small and medium dogs can be weighed at home by holding them with you on a scale, and then subtracting your weight from the total. Talk with your veterinarian to find out if your dog is overweight and get a recommended weight management plan.

* Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
** Ward E. and Peterson M "Pet Obesity Rates Rise, Cats Heavier than Ever." 2013.

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