Pet Obesity: Keeping Your Pet Lean and Healthy

Pet obesity can really sneak up on you. Many times, what we think is too skinny, is actually healthy, says Dr. Catherine Reid, DVM.

Dr. Reid is acting director of the Vet Tech Program at New York’s LaGuardia Community College.  She works weekends at New York’s East Side Animal Hospital.

Obesity and overweight have increased dramatically over the past two decades for humans, as well as our four-legged furry friends. In fact, says the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over half of U.S. dogs and cats are now considered to be overweight or obese, contributing to a wide range of health problems, including diabetes, joint problems, heart concerns and, in general, a shortening of your pet’s life.

Education is key.  Know what a healthy pet looks like, says Dr. Reid.  “A good standard is the Body Condition System by Purina.  In fact, it’s what most vets use,” she says.

Look at your pet from all angles, side and top.  The pet should have a “waistline” and you should be able to feel the ribs. Run your hand over the animal’s back and you should feel the spine.

If you still aren’t sure, though, it’s always wise to consult with your vet.

“As a beautician for the four-legged, I always recommend that people consult first with their vet if I suspect a problem,” said Katina Alton, proprietor of the Hell’s Kitchen Groom Room in New York City. “It’s important to have your vet examine the animal to be sure there are no health problems caused—or causing—the overweight problem.”

Remember that animals only eat for survival, added Dr. Reid.  “They only care about being rewarded–and you can do that without treats or table scraps.”

As for exercise, the amount always depends upon the animal’s breed, health and personality.  Just as people should check with their doctors before embarking on an exercise program, so, too, should you with your dog’s vet.

When Lauren Moore of Canine Styles needed to help her dog lose five pounds they walked and walked—“usually about two miles every other day.”  Moore also fed her dog only organic and every treat was high-grain,low fiber.


Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is a board certified wellness and nutrition coach for humans.  She is author of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up your Day:  Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time and Balance Your Life.  Her website is:

An Ezine Expert Author:, she also writes “Power Wellness,” a twice-monthly newsletter that can be subscribed to from her website.


4 thoughts on “Pet Obesity: Keeping Your Pet Lean and Healthy

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