Obesity & Your Pet

canton vets talk about pet obesity

As with humans, obesity in pets is often indicative of a poor diet and not enough exercise.

The following resources have been handpicked from the veterinarians and animal care clinic at the Cherokee Animal Hospital to help you and your pet get on the right track to your pet’s healthy lifestyle.


Help with Weight Loss

So how do you help your dog lose weight?

See Cats Only for feline suggestions!

A true weight loss plan is often in order, but here are a few pointers.  If your pet’s diet meets the criteria on the Food/Diet Goals page but there is still a weight problem, start with these steps.

Eliminate all people food

A one ounce piece of cheese is the equivalent of 2 ½ cheeseburgers for  a small dog

If the current volume fed is appropriate (call us, we’re happy to advise) then decrease the current volume by about 10-20 % and replace the volume with plain canned green beans.  So the dog thinks they are getting the same overall amount.

Get on the exercise.

A walk every day!  Be sure this walk satisfies two different criteria; The first 10 minutes is just for sniffing and exploring.  Save the exercise portion for the end so no one gets frustrated.  Be sure to walk when it is cool.  Your dog should always be in front or beside you.  If they start to lag; stop, rest, and water.  Dogs overheat much faster than people

If none of these decrease weight (give it 4-6 months) then a true diet change might be in order.

Healthy Weight

So what is a good weight for my pet?

In general, we want to be able to see a waist from both the side and top of dogs and cats.  We want to be able to feel ribs with gentle rubbing, but not see them (there are some breed exceptions where seeing ribs are normal).

What defines a “Good Food”?

Every pet’s needs are different.  There is not one food that works for all.  Some pets have diseases that require very specific prescription foods, but most will do very well on a commercial diet.  We do sometimes have to do a little trial and error to find just the right diet for the individual pet.  Always make these changes gradual by blending the new and old diets over a week or so.

Sometimes a good food, isn’t enough to lose weight and other, more aggressive options can be used.  See Help for the Overweight.

Use these criteria to help decide if your pet’s current diet is ok:

  1. Your pet stays at a consistent and healthy weight.
  2. Their skin and hair coat are healthy and have no ear infections.
  3. They have no more than 2-3 stools per day.
  4. Those stools are normal in size and consistency (firm, but not hard or soft).

Food & Treats

What to Know about Food and Treats for your Pet

There are several important things to know about foods and treats for our pets.  Many of the common phrases seen on packaging such as “Low Fat” or “Low Calorie” have no legal implications.

In other words, what is on the package, may not mean anything worthwhile.  Most foods will also list a minimum fat content.  The label may say a minimum of 7% fat, but no maximum is listed.  There could be 30% or more fat!  Only the manufacturer knows for sure.

Unfortunately, better foods do cost more and are generally considered worth the money.  However, this doesn’t mean the most expensive foods available are necessary.  Middle of the road works great for lots of pets.  See the Food Goals page for more.

We do not generally support either homemade diets or raw diets.  It is very difficult to provide all necessary nutritional support long term in a homemade diet.  There are some diseases caused by missing a single amino acid or vitamin!  Raw diets put both pets and owner at high risk for some infectious diseases.

We would be happy to answer specific questions or address special circumstances involving these two topics.


Obesity has become one of the most common problems in our pets today.

This is due to a number of reasons including more sedentary lifestyles, overfeeding, and excessive treats.

Obesity causes the same problems in animals that it does in people.  Diabetes, worsened arthritis, heart, and respiratory diseases are just a few big reasons to get and keep our pets thinner

Remember, food companies are in the business of selling dog food.  Often, volumes to be fed on these bags are too large.  Feel free to call and ask us for advice but, generally any food has to be adjusted based on the individual pet’s weight and response to the diet.

Pets really do not need snacks or treats in between meals.  What they do need is your attention and interaction.  This is what really matters to them.  People equate food with love.  Dogs and cats do not.  We teach them to expect the treats.   Use affection instead of a cookie.


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