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Pet Obesity Statistics & Fact Sheet 2021 (Dogs, Cats, & Other Animals)

Ed Malaker

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Pet obesity is a growing problem in America and the rest of the world. It can lead to several health risks and can shorten the lifespan of our pet. However, it may not always be easy to tell if your pet is overweight or what you can do to fix it before it gets out of control. We’ve searched the internet to find s many statistics as we could find to help you understand how serious this problem is, and we’ll also provide you with tips for determining your pet’s ideal weight and some steps you can take to correct it.

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12 Pet Obesity Statistics

  • 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese
  • Obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs
  • Nearly 100 million pets in the United States are overweight or obese
  • Less than 10% of dogs and cats diagnosed with obesity can lose weight
  • Obesity is on the rise for the seventh year
  • 0% of animals that lost weight gained it back within 12 months
  • 28% of cats are overweight, and another 31% are clinically obese
  • Smaller dogs can lose weight easier than larger dogs
  • 34% of dogs are overweight, and another 20% are clinically obese
  • For dogs, obesity increases with age until they reach seven
  • Obese pets tend to live shorter lives with more medical problems
  • Obesity costs Americans more than $62 million per year
fat cat
Image Credit: Almi, Pixabay

Biggest Causes of Animal Obesity

Genetics

Some animals have obesity in their genes and are predisposed to becoming overweight. Dog breeds prone to becoming overweight include the Bassett Hound, Pug, Bulldog, Beagle, Golden Retriever, and Dachshund. Several cat breeds are also prone to obesity, including the Sphynx, Birman, American Shorthair, Manx, and Persian.

Overeating

Overeating is the main cause of obesity in pets. Humans tend to feed larger portions than are suggested. We also over-treat and give in too easily when our pets bug us for food.

Lowered Metabolism

A lowered metabolism is the result of a malfunctioning thyroid gland. This disease can cause your pet to gain weight and may also cause a decrease in activity, causing your pet to take more frequent naps. Other symptoms might include aggressiveness, dandruff, constipation, and more.

Trauma

Trauma, both physical and mental, can cause stress to your pet, and much like humans, your pet might try to cope by overeating. If you tend to leave food in the bowl for your pet, you might find it is empty more often. Other symptoms might include withdrawal and aggression. You may also notice your pet shaking or excessively vocalizing. In extreme cases, your pet might break housetraining.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Another common cause of obesity is a sedentary lifestyle. Breeders created many dog breeds to herd sheep or chase prey so hunters can shoot them ab d they can run and jump for several hours every day. Even owners that take their dog out for a daily walk are unlikely to reach the activity level required to keep the dog healthy.

fat golden retriever
Image Credit: danbar44, Pixabay

Dogs that spend their day in the home or lounging in the backyard can gain weight quickly. The same is true for cats. While keeping them in the house is safer for them and the local wildlife, your indoor cat, cannot get the same level of exercise an outdoor cat gets. Most indoor cats lounge by the window, sleeping or watching birds, and see very little activity.

Low-Quality Food

Another cause of obesity is low-quality food. Many brands cut costs by adding fillers like corn, soy, and wheat. These fillers add little nutritional value but digest easily, creating a sugar boost just like in humans. This sugar high wears off, causing your pet to lay down and take a nap, and quite often, they will wake up hungry again, begging you for more food.

Major Health Risks of Animal Obesity

The list of health risks associated with obesity is nearly endless, no matter what type of pet you have. However some illnesses are more common than others, including arthritis, bladder disease, liver disease, diabetes, heart failure, asthma, and many more. Many of these illnesses are life-threatening or will or will lead to other conditions that are.

5 Most Common Illnesses Caused By Obesity in Dogs

  • Arthritis
  • Urinary tract disease
  • Liver disease
  • Low thyroid production
  • Torn knee ligaments

5 Most Common Diseases Caused By Obesity in Cats

  • Urinary tract disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Liver disease
cat chubby
Image Credit: awakesj00, Pixabay

How to Tell if Your Animal is Overweight

Body Shape

You can usually tell if your dog or cat is overweight by looking at it from above. If you can see well-defined hips, your pet is in good shape. You shouldn’t see the ribs but should feel them easily when you pet them. If the body is oval, like a football, and you cannot clearly see the hips, your pet is likely overweight.

Ribs

You shouldn’t see the ribs of your pet, but you should be able to feel them easily by pressing on them or petting your cat or dog. You should also be able to feel the hips, and they should have padding bit not be soft or fatty.

Padding

You can often see pat pads on cats and dogs by looking at their legs. The fat will usually swing between their legs as they walk.

Behavior

Overweight pets tend to be consumed with eating. It will often push other pets out of the way to get to the food and continuously beg for a treat or snack. When they are not eating, overweight pets tend to sleep or lounge around, often avoiding any activity that will quickly tire them out.

Breathing

Overweight animals tend to have difficulty breathing. You will often notice increased snoring and heavy breathing, sometimes when your pet is sitting still. A difficulty breathing can make it difficult for your pet to get any exercise to combat the problem.

Find a Chart

There are many different breeds of dogs and cats, and there are also many other animals people keep as pets. A great way to tell what your pet should weigh is to find a chart of your species. These charts will often give you a weight range as well as several physical attributes to look at.

fat lazy dog
Image Credit: Reifous, Pixabay

How To Develop a Weight Loss/Management Plan For Your Pet

The two areas you want to focus on when developing a weight loss plan are calories and activity.

Calories

  • You can help reduce the calories your pet consumes by switching to higher-quality food. Better ingredients are more nutritious, and they will also leave your pet feeling full for longer, reducing the amount of food they eat per day.
  • Eliminate free feeding, which means don’t leave food around your home. Some pets will eat when they are bored, and food is available, which can form bad habits that lead to obesity. Feed your pet at specific times and remove the food when the time is over.
  • You can try to feed your pet smaller portions, but you need to be careful, especially when dealing with an overweight cat. Rapid weight loss can cause cats to get fatty liver disease which is potentially fatal. Therefore, you should only reduce portions slowly and with the veterinarian’s oversight to make sure your cat remains healthy while it loses weight.

Activity

  • Playing fetch and other games with your dog is a great way to get them to be a little more active.
  • You can take your dog for a week each day. Start with short walks and increase the length every few weeks until you walk about two hours a day.
  • Frisbee and tug of war can help your pet be more active.
  • Laser pens are a great way to get your cat to be more active.
  • Catnip can make a lazy cat more playful
  • Food puzzles can slow down eating and mentally stimulate cats and dogs.
  • Hiding treats around the house will cause your pet to go on the hunt instead of having the treats handed to it.

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Conclusion

Obesity is a serious problem in America and abroad. It’s one of the leading causes of death of almost any kind of pet, and it’s also the most preventable. It’s much easier to prevent your pet from becoming obese than it is to help them lose weight. Animals don’t understand and will be relentless in searching for food and can even become violent with other family pets if you cut their portions. Pay careful attention to the quality of the food and portion size and set up a regular exercise routine that you and your pet can stick to consistently if you want to keep your pet at the ideal weight.

We hope you enjoyed our look into pet obesity and learned a few facts you didn’t already know. If we have convinced you to get serious about maintaining your pet’s weight, please share these obesity statistics on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image: Ihtar, Pixabay

Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.