Is My Dog Overweight? 5 Common Mistakes that You May Be Making

Is your dog or cat overweight? You are not alone. Many pets are overweight. These few extra pounds can cause your dog or cat to be more predisposed to medical issues. By keeping your pet at a healthy weight, you are helping them live a long and happy life.

There are many mistakes that you may be making, causing your dog or cat to gain weight. If you are having trouble keeping your pet at an ideal weight, talk to your vet and make sure that your pet does not have any underlying medical issues making it difficult for your dog or cat to shed those few extra pounds.

little fat pug

5 Mistakes that Are Causing My Dog or Cat to Gain Weight

There are many reasons that your dog or cat may be gaining weight. These are 5 of the most common reasons that you may be causing your pet to be overweight.

You are Overfeeding Your Dog or Cat

Many people feed their dog or cat way too much food. The serving size on the bag is usually a little on the high end for most dogs and cats. It is always best to feed your dog or cat a little less than their recommended serving, especially if you are going to offer them treats or other tasty rewards.


Many people will also guess at the measurement that they are supposed to feed their dog or cat. If the bag says that they should feed a cup, this means an actual measuring cup worth of food. It is best to get a measuring cup for your pet’s food and measure out how much to feed them. Do not get a large cup out of your cupboard to guess how much you are going to feed your pet.

You are Giving Your Dog or Cat Too Many Treats

Everyone loves to have a tasty treat, and so do our dogs and cats. While many dogs and cats would rather eat their daily calorie needs in treats than in their food; if you continue to give your pet extra treats, you will notice that they will easily pack on the extra pounds.

Most treats contain 10 to 30 calories per treat. Some little dogs only need to eat 100 to 300 calories a day, and they can easily reach this limit with just a few treats. You can see the calorie content of these treats on the bag. Looking for low fat treats or treats with very few calories will help keep your dog slim.

chihuahua dog on a treadmill

You Are Giving Your Pet Too Much People Food

Many dogs and even some cats will come to beg for people food while you are eating. Giving them even just a small bite may have more calories in that one bite than they need in a whole day. Common things that we give our pets are cheese, bananas, chips, and bread. Most of these things are loaded with calories.

Giving your dog just one small cube of cheese is the same as a person eating one and a half hamburgers. When comparing snacks that we feed our dogs to their human food equivalence, just a little bit of people food will add on a lot of extra calories. When feeding your dog human food, look for low-calorie options. Things like carrots, Cheerios, or green beans are great options to share with your dog or cat.


You Are Not Giving Your Pet Plenty of Time to Exercise

Dogs and cats need daily exercise. This may be taking your dog for a walk around the block or throwing the ball in the back yard for your cat, giving them toys to play with in the house, or using a laser pointer to get them to run around the house. These times of exercise are needed to help them burn off the calories that they are eating and stay at a healthy weight.

During the winter months, when it is too cold to go outside for long, there are things that you can do to still keep your dog active and fit while staying mostly inside. As your dog and cat start to get older, they tend to not be as active. This is when you need to start monitoring your pet’s food intake and see if you need to decrease the amount of food that they are eating; or increase the amount of time that they are exercising to help keep them fit.

vet putting cat on scale

You Are Feeding the Wrong Food

As your puppy matures into an adult dog, they also need to switch to adult food. This will help keep them from gaining a lot of weight. Once your dog reaches a year of age, they should switch to an adult diet.

You should feed your pet with high-quality food. Many of the cheaper dog and cat foods are usually lower quality. These foods are filled with fillers and by-products that just cause your dog or cat to gain weight. They usually do not have any added nutritional benefits.

When looking for food for your dog and cat, look at the fat content. While your pet will need some fat in their diet, finding food with a lower fat content will help keep your dog or cat from getting overweight. Other things like fiber will help make sure that they get full without needing to eat a lot of food. A good quality food paired with plenty of exercises will help keep your dog or cat fit and healthy.


Final thoughts

While an overweight dog or cat may be cute, there are numerous health problems that your dog or cat can develop just from being overweight. These extra pounds can put extra strain on your dogs or cat’s joints. It can even cause internal organs not to function properly. A dog or cat being overweight can lead to them developing diabetes. By feeding your dog or cat a high-quality food and monitoring your dog’s or cat’s food and treat intake, your pet can stay at a fit weight so that they can live a long and happy life.

Further reading:

  1. National Academies Press. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats


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