Healthy weights for cat and dog – is your pet obese?

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To maintain your pet’s health, it’s important to know whether they are too heavy, underweight or just right.

Both obesity and malnourishment can cause serious health issues in animals of all ages. Too much weight puts pressure on the bones and joints, while also putting a strain on internal organs. It can seriously shorten your pet’s lifespan, putting them at risk for high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes and even cancer. Underweight animals are also at risk, as their bony appearance could signal something far more serious than just a lack of food or crucial nutrients.

Although numbers vary from breed to breed, vets and well-known companies such as Purina regularly discuss simple methods of determining an animals’ weight. Small dogs especially need regular checking!

Below is a simple step-by-step guide to help you get a better picture of recommendations.

1.     Look at your animal from the side

Your dog or cat’s tummy should not be level with, or below, the chest; it should tuck up slightly rather than sagging. Obvious bones and protrusions could indicate emaciation, while distended and swollen silhouettes point to obesity.

If your pet is extremely fluffy, it can be more difficult to get an overall view. Try the following two points for further inspection.

2.     Look at your animal from above

Your dog or cat should have a visibly tucked in waist with a natural curve. There should be no bone protrusions or barrelling, only healthy muscular contouring.

3.     Feel your pet’s sides for their ribs

Feeling for ribs is one of the easiest ways to test for weight. If you cannot feel the ribcage easily, your pet could be overweight. Equally, if your pet’s ribs are only covered by a thin layer of skin, they could be underweight.  You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs, but they will have slight padding around them.


Still unsure? Don’t worry, the Pet MD has a fantastic online tool to help you discover your animal’s ideal weight, plus an in-depth symptoms checker should your pet become ill.