Is your dog overweight or is your cat kinda fat?

The dangers of obesity and overfeeding your pets

It’s estimated in Australia that up to 40% of our pets are overweight. It’s the number one health condition that vets encounter and it’s concerning as there are a number of health issues associated with having a cat or dog overweight. For starters, studies show that overweight pets have shorter life spans than those in a healthy weight range. In addition, overweight dogs and cats have an increased risk of respiratory problems, diabetes, skin disorders, arthritis, some cancers and urinary conditions in cats.

So, if you’re asking is your dog overweight or is your cat kinda fat, read on to find out how to tell and how to manage this issue.



How to tell if you have a cat or dog that is overweight

Cat & Dog Body Condition Chart  Source: Evans Animal Hospital

Ignore the scales, the best sign of whether your cat or dog is overweight or obese (or underweight for that matter) is their shape. They should be lean. You should be able to see a defined waist and you should be able to feel their ribs with your fingers. If your pet is extra fluffy then it can be harder to determine. In these instances, be sure to use your hands to feel for their ribs. Check out the useful chart to the left or talk to your vet if you’re unsure.



What to do if you’ve got an overweight dog or kinda fat cat?

You have an overweight dog or a kinda fat cat. Our tips will help. Remember that even if it wasn’t deliberate, you got them into this mess and they’re counting on you to get them out of it! That’s because, pets eat the food they have access to. Going forward, you need to make sure your pet only has access to the right amount of food to initially lose a little weight. And then, the right quantity to maintain that healthy weight.

We know that dogs in particular tend to show a real passion for food, often wolfing down their dog food in seconds only to beg for more. They may hang around the dinner table, anxiously looking for fallen titbits or a sympathetic doggy parent. Those big puppy eyes can be hard to resist! It’s important in these instances to remember that you have to be cruel to be kind. But don’t stress too much, it is possible to help your overweight dog or overweight cat lose weight. A healthy weight will improve their overall wellbeing, so it’s well worth it.

Top 8 tips

  1. Watch portion size. If you’re needing your dog or cat to lose a little weight, reduce their meal size by a small amount until they’re back to a healthy weight. Do this gradually, no crash diets please!
  2. Read and measure. Always check the label on the pet food you’re using to ensure that you’re feeding the recommended amount. It depends on their size, breed, life stage and activity level. Get in the habit of measuring it out precisely and be sure to divide the total quantity across all meals fed in the day. See our feeding guide for more info.
  3. The right food. See our suggestions below for suitable overweight dog foods and cat foods. Also check that your adult pet is not eating puppy or kitten food as these are higher in fat and calories. Transition your puppy or kitten onto adult food once they are fully grown, the timing of which depends on their size and breed.
  4. Yours is yours. Resist the temptation to feed your pet table scraps. Retrain them to know that your food is yours and theirs is theirs. One way to manage this is to feed them their meal at the same time as you eat yours so they don’t try to double down on extras. Slow pet feeders and toys are another way to get their attention away from your food at mealtimes.
  5. Manage mealtimes for the whole pet family. If you have more than one pet and the greedy one is eating the other’s food, you may need to be more creative at mealtimes. For instance, put cat food up high where the dog can’t reach it. Separate animals so they each get their own food. Remove half eaten dishes after 10 minutes. They’ll quickly learn they must eat at the time or miss out.
  6. Don’t overdo the treats. The mistake many pet owners make is overfeeding your dog or cat by not accounting for extra bones, treats or human food given. Treats should not make up more than 10% of the daily intake and if you do give treats, offset the amount at mealtimes.
  7. Exercise your pet. Just like you, physical activity burns calories in pets too. For dogs, walking, playing fetch or rumbling with a doggy friend are good options. It’s harder for cats who tend to lead sedentary lives but you can boost play time. Good options are chasing games with feathers or string, leaving lots of toys about or a cat tower. Also allow them more time to roam outside.
  8. See your vet. If you’re concerned or you want to check for underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid issues, make a time to visit your vet.



Do I need special overweight dog food or cat food?

The short answer is no. If you’re needing to put your cat or dog on a diet, you don’t necessarily need a formula specially made as overweight dog food or cat food. In fact, we suggest you should be wary of pet food that is labelled as diet or lite as these can often be packed with carbohydrate fillers. Too much carbohydrate will just lead to a hungry pet again soon after eating. Choose a high quality food that is high in protein. Just like in humans, protein will satisfy a pet’s hunger.

Another good choice for dieters is kangaroo meat, which is one of the leanest meats around, both low in fat and high in protein.

Here are a few good pet food options to suit an overweight dog or cat:


        Paringa Diced Roo

Preservative Free – for dogs


Regal BARF Roo – Frozen

Preservative Free – for dogs


Paringa Lamb & Roo 

Diced –  for dogs


Lean Cat – for cats


Lean Cat with Turkey – for cats

Paringa Diced Roo – for cats

Paringa Minced Roo – for cats

Paringa Cats Delight – 

Kangaroo with Brawn