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Pet Health Concerns: Obesity


by Heather Reynolds

It turns out that 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight. Although it shouldn’t be too surprising, with 34% of the human population overweight, it is still unfortunate that we as pet owners are projecting our bad nutrition and exercise habits onto our beloved pets. And as you would expect, just as with humans, obesity in dogs can be a killer.

Dogs can be plagued by the same weight-related issues as humans, including pancreatitis, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It can also lead to a higher rate of accidents due to more weight bearing down on joints and bones.

While it may not seem significant if your pet gains a few extra pounds, it can equate to a big health concern. For example, a 12-pound Yorkshire Terrier is the same as an average female weighing 218 pounds, and a 100-pound Labrador Retriever is the same as a 232-pound average male.

It is important to know what weight range is healthy for your pet, so you are aware if a problem exists.

Here are the top five dog breeds in the United States and the healthy weight of each:

1. Labrador Retriever: 65-80 pounds
2. German Shepherd Dog: 75-95 pounds
3. Yorkshire Terrier: Less than 7 pounds
4. Golden Retriever: 65-75 pounds
5. Beagle: 18-30 pounds

And the following are the top four cat types and healthy weights for each:

1. Domestic Cat: 8-10 pounds
2. Persian: 7-12 pounds
3. Siamese: 5-10 pounds
4. Maine Coon: 10-25 pounds

Most of the time there are preventative measures pet owners can take to prevent obesity in their pets. Easy changes like decreasing food and treats throughout the day and increasing walks and other forms of exercise are a good place to start. Also, do a bit of research on your pet breed to find out how much exercise your pet typically needs, and if your pet is prone to any health issues that could lead to weight gain.

Because unfortunately, in some cases, obesity is related to other health problems, such as hypothyroidism, or medications your pet may be taking, such as steroids. So, if you are taking all the appropriate measures to keep your pet healthy and he or she is still packing on the pounds, there may be other causes at work.

We love our pets and we need to show them by keeping them happy and healthy. What are some things you do to keep your pet healthy?

Heather Reynolds is a pet lover and Internet Journalist at Trupanion, a pet insurance company. Feel free to contact her with any questions relating to pet insurance at


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. Obesity is such a big issue, much bigger than people realize. Even link between obesity and cancer has been discovered! Fat isn’t just an inactive chunk of lard, but fat tissue is actually a hormone producing organ! That qualifies it as an endocrine organ! Some of the hormones produced by fat are involved in inflammation and cancerous cells limitation! But fat can only produce the right amount of these hormones at ideal levels when there is the right amount of it. The more the merrier definitely isn’t true for fat and subsequent hormones.

  2. This is such an important issue. By exercising your pet you can help yourself too. Studies have shown that people who walk with dogs tend to walk faster and farther than those walking with human companions. You can avoid obesity for you and your pet with one walk.

  3. I have a blog on dog arthritis and talk about obesity a LOT. Keeping a healthy weight is the best thing you can do for dog arthritis, so I agree with everything you say. One helpful suggestion… there is a number of body condition scoring systems that take some of the guesswork out of weight assessment. Visit the Dog Weight Loss section of my blog for more information at

  4. Heather Reynolds is right on! A lifetime study by Purina showed that dogs live longer, healthier lives when they are fed conservatively and remain lean.

    Two groups of Labrador retrievers were fed the same food, but one group was fed 75% of the amount the other group ate. The dogs fed less food lived 15% longer, nearly 2 years for the Labs in this study. In addition, the leaner dogs had a lower incidence of arthritis -– and developed it 3 years later. At age 8, the incidence of arthritis in the heavier dogs was 5 times that of the slimmer dogs.

    For more information on the role of weight and health in dogs and cats, check out my website, It contains 800 pages of pet health info that is indexed and searchable.

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This post contains affiliate links, which means we earn a commission for sales referred from links on our site. We're also Amazon Associates, so we may earn from those qualifying purchases, too. Learn more!