Half Of All American Dogs And Cats Are Overweight

From the Huffington Post:

Full story at Huffington Post

So what do you all think?

When I was a kid I had a dog and he was pretty fluffy, then one day he got skunked and we had to clean him. It was funny we wet him down and soaped him up and found out his “fluff” was mostly fat.

When we took him to the vet for his rabies shot, he weighed in at 120 and the vet said, he should be about 75 pounds. We had to put him on a diet.

I felt bad for him. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t eat. Then we had to get after all the neighbors. We found they were using our dog to get rid of their leftovers. My neighbor was like “but he always looks so hungry and I hate to throw away food.”

My other neighbor said, “our dog wouldn’t like him if she didn’t feed him.” Our dog liked EVERYBODY who paid him any attention

But he did lose the weight in a little over 9 months. I must say it helped him a lot and though he hated it, you could tell how it benefited him as he was much more active. We had a big backyard and he liked to run and after he lost the weight he started actively stalking the mailman again :slight_smile:

And then the mailman started sneaking him treats, right? :smiley:

That makes for some damn funny-looking pets, dude.

Two years ago we took Tikki to the vet and got the verdict: My cat is fat.

The vet gave us a bag of Very Diet Food (that is, even more diet-y than the half-calorie feed we’d already been giving her) and a measuring cup, and told us to come back in a year.

1 year ago: Tikva goes back to the vet. Tikva is still sixteen pounds. The vet says to measure her food more exactly.

As of now, Tikva has been on a strictly restricted diet with her food measured from a cup once a day. Tikva is still fat. I don’t think she’s due to be taken to the vet until April, but I won’t be suprised if she’s still sixteen pounds. I’m hoping maybe she’ll be down to fifteen. She is still convinced that she’s on the verge of starvation. Do cats ever get gastric bypass surgery? :smack:

I don’t know how you can really put a cat on a diet. If Max-cat decides that he should be fed, he bugs the shit out of me until I do it. Do you just ignore the whining and nose-batting? Fortunately Max (who isn’t an American cat anyway) is a pretty small fuzzball and it hasn’t come up yet.

My dog was like that too when he was on his diet. He just didn’t understand, why he had so much food and now nothing. Well he got dry diet dog food and water. And it’s HARD not to feed them as they are so cute.

I watch my neighbors dogs when they go away and I taught them a bunch of tricks with the charco-bits. You know the hard dog biscuits that are supposed to correct dog breath. Man those are two spoiled dogs but they act like they’ll do ANYTHING for those biscuits.

You would think they’ve never been fed from they act. So I do understand why it’s so easy to overfeed pets.

I also had a cat when I was little and she had access to food all the time but she only ate once in awhile. She was a tuxedo cat and consistantly weighed 8 pounds.

If necessary, you recondition him. Get a little squirt gun full of water, and whining or nose-batting when it’s not time to be fed gets a squirt.

most store-bought (dry) dog and cat food is full of grains. coincidentally, most american’s diets are full of grains.


can’t figure out why we have to force our poor dietary choices on our pets too.

My cat is 5lbs, full-grown (picture the world’s smallest Norwegian Forest Cat). The vet advised me to fatten her up a bit - if by some chance she gets sick a little extra body mass provides some safety. Haven’t figured out a way to do that since she doesn’t eat a lot and she’s a picky eater.

I place most of the blame on the steady diet of processed grain-based ‘pet food’. Not even fit for animals. Not any more fit for humans, as we can see…

People also often aren’t so good at exercising their pets, feeding their pets the amounts they need to maintain a proper weight, or even realizing when pets have too much body fat. Dogs and cats are meant to be much leaner than humans, being carnivores and all, but I have known people with pets nearly crippled by the massive amount of fat they were carrying who were shocked - and even offended - that anyone would suggest Fluffy was overweight.

Of course some animals do have a much bigger appetite than others; three of my four will get fat if they eat as much as they want. The fourth has a small appetite and I have to coax her to eat enough to maintain her weight.

Catscan be annoying when they want things but you should be using operant conditioning on them, not letting them use it on you. You can train them so they don’t harass you. Works for kids too.

I believe it. Our Golden is 4 pounds overweight, and is on a diet, but she is positively svelte compared to most of them. She was at the perfect weight when she was an active breeder, but now that she is retired she and we have slacked off.

I could tell at age 4 months we were going to have a portly cat. He already at that early age had the ‘udder’ thing fat cats get. Well, he is 30 months old now, and weighs 25 pounds. He is somewhat ‘chunky’, but what we and all our guests notice is that he is just a really big cat. He is quite tall, and quite long. He plays with another full grown cat that weighs 6 pounds. I have to admit, it is super funny comparing the sleek and svelte maneuverable little kitty wrestling with the giant one.

Despite his size, our big cat is surprisingly active. Hearing and watching him ‘thunder’ up a flight of stairs is impressive. We’ve had other big kitties in years past, and they tend to be sedentary, but this one is uniquely big and active.

He let’s me grind his claws off too, fortunate for our furniture. He likes having his ears Q-tipped too. Plays fetch and loves to drink water.

Best cat we’ve ever had.

I think it’s overfeeding. I don’t blame the grain type food. As I said, my dog got fat, 'cause we and the neighbors were feeding it. It’s FUN to feed dogs and they act so grateful for it. Again, my neighbors two dogs are fairly spoiled, and they act like they’ve never had a decent meal in their life.

Animals are fun to feed, especially those of us old enough to remember when you could go to the zoo and feed the animals. Man those animals at the zoo really gave you your money’s worth when you fed them. Now they just are lazy lumps. Oh sure they’re healthy lazy lumps but I still recall the monkeys or giraffes racing to get the popcorn :smiley:

I noticed after we got our cats “fixed” they gained a substantial amount of weight and I really don’t know why since they don’t eat more. My dogs have always been thin and trim and people always say they look too skinny. Everyone but the vets! They compliment me for keeping them healthy.

However, my SO’s pup is a fattie. That dog gets every scrap and bone. (I know I know but you can’t tell HIM that!) Plus he gets kibble and a can every day.

Quoted fully because grain is why cats are fat.

Cats are obligate carnivares. sorry for the typing, but my cat is helping. The best food for a cat is a mouse. This is why domestic cats were bred.

The best diet for a cat, because we can’t get canned mice, is to feed canned fowl. No, that’s wrong, the best diet for a cat is raw…but most people can’t do that. I know I can’t. My cats get smooshy food twice a day. Only one of them is fat, but he is an old sick guy who gets extra protions because he’s an old guy who likes to eat.

Even the best cat kibble is at least 40 percent grain. It wouldn’t hold its shape otherwise.

Domestic dogs were bred to run around and eat garbage. I know that dog owners nowadays don’t do that, but dog guts still remember the day. Way back in the day, dogs didn’t get to eat much bread. That was a very labor intensive food, not something that one would give to an animal.

Now I’m rambling:smack:

Sorry. Goes back to the point. Feeding your cats corn will make them fat. Letting neighbors feed dogs meat scraps is OK. Neighbors feeding dogs left over pasta isn’t such a good thing.

Have you considered feeding a canned food diet? Cats are obligate carnivores, they really don’t process kibble (dry food) very well, and it invariably makes them fat unless they are a very fastidious self-regulator. At the shelter where I work, we have a “fat camp” room where the cats who live in that room get canned food only. They all lose weight, and when they get adopted we stress very strongly to the adopters that the cat should remain on canned food. Even the cheap stuff, that still has grains in it, does better than kibble.

Something else people don’t do, and that pet food manufacturers make difficult to do, is actually measure the amount of calories per cup or can of food and feed accordingly. A young active cat should consume anywhere from 250-350 kcal per day, depending on weight. Your veterinarian - if you push - can calculate what your cat or dog should be consuming daily. The tricky part is finding how many calories the food you’re feeding has in it. Many premium foods have the kcal per cup/can listed on the package, but it can be hard to discover on grocery store foods. The manufacturers website often has it if you dig around in there far enough.

An example - I have 4 cats, they weigh 8#, 11#, 13.5# and 14#. One of them needs a special diet, so they all get the special diet food. I was able to get the kcal contents and I measure what they get twice a day. Turns out I give them 1,000 kcal a day, 500 in the morning (1 can of food and 1/2 cup kibble, split 4 ways) and the same 500 at night. That’s the total for all 4 cats. Of course they don’t all eat the same amount, but I leave it up to them to figure it out, the average is 250 each, but I’m sure the smaller ones eat more like 200 and the bigger ones more like 300.

But just saying “1 cup” says nothing, and this is where the real disservice to the public and all their pets comes in. The kibble I feed, “1 cup” is about 477 kcal, while a kibble I’ve fed in the past, EVO, “1 cup” is 602 kcal per cup. Well, that’s a very different amount I would have to feed to keep the total target at 1,000 kcal per day!

If you break down my example to be for just one cat, that comes down to just 1/4 cup of kibble and 1/2 can of food a day (of the particular prescription food I feed). Not much. With cats especially, I think it’s difficult to think in terms of appropriate volumes of food for an average 10 pound animal.

Of course, a drastic reduction in calories is not appropriate for cats. Fat cats especially need to have their calories reduced slowly over several months because of the risk of hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Many advocates of canned-food only diets for cats will say to simply give the cat as much as they want of the canned food (reasonably anyway - usually no more than 3 cans per day), similar to a person switching to a low-carb diet the cat will start to lose weight. Once the canned food under way, then it’s time to press your vet for calorie consumption, what the cat should be consuming at her present weight, and what she should be eating at her target weight. Then it’s up to you to choose the food, and determine the measure of her daily intake to take her to her target calorie consumption over the next 8 months or so. (fat cats=slow weight loss to be safe).

All in all, this really doesn’t take much time, just some looking up on websites on your part, and pressing your vet for calorie targets. I keep saying you may have to press your vet for it because, honestly, vets get about as much schooling on nutrition as MD’s. (NOT MUCH AT ALL) Seriously, like 1 class that they promptly forget unless they’re really interested and take further CE courses. MOST regular daytime family veterinarians really don’t know that much, and to calculate calorie requirements, they may need to refer to a book. That’s OK. Tell him/her to take all the time he/she needs and to go find that reference book if they need to. It’s OK, you’ll wait!

If you want to do it on your own, at this point if you’ve been feeding the same for a while, just look up the food you’re using and go from there, with a goal to get down to 300 calories a day, but seriously slowly over the course of 6 to 8 months.

It’s really not much effort when you compare it to treating a cat for diabetes!

(writing as a vet tech who’s been working with a feline specialist veterinarian for 5 years at a feline rescue shelter with a shelter feeding plan and developed the canned diet rooms, including diabetes management for a few cats who are now in remission) I really didn’t mean to write such a long post but I hope someone gets something out of it.

My cat, Boris is fat. He gets 1 can of Fancy Feast a day. they are small cans. Then he gets a small bowl of dry. That is it. he does not eat people food. If he sees a corn chip, he will lick the salt off. He does not eat turkey, ham or other meats.
If I run out of Feast, he pushes his bowl and everything else off the desk. Then he bitches. Every now and then my wife spots a sale of Friskies, 9 Lives, or some other food. No good, He will not eat it. It pisses him off.

A lot of good points have been made on this thread.

Regardless of any purported nutritional changes due to cooking food, there is a good reason we cook raw meat - it has a tendency to harbor nasty pathogens like Salmonella, pathogenic strains of E. coli, Campylobacter, Clostridium, etc. The same is true of commercial frozen pet food diets, which have the potential to make you and your pet sick. Just an FYI.
Fact Sheet on raw diets from infectious disease veterinarians at U of Ontario, Guelph

For cats that get bored and hungry and obnoxious, here are some more ideas:

  • using an automated feeder so that the cat learns a strict, unvarying schedule and no longer associates you with feeding time - he can harass the machine, not you!
  • using treat-dispensing balls - also takes the food focus off of you somewhat, makes meal-time go slower, gives them something to do (you do have to be patient since it takes some cats longer than others to figure it out; go for one that has big holes and allows you to adjust the difficulty as the cat learns)
  • increasing general enrichment (think changing around locations of toys and scratching posts, playing with shoelaces/laser pointers/feather toys, cat grass, catnip, etc.) and exercise - a tired cat is a well-behaved cat, and exercise inhibits appetite
  • feeding foods that are high in fiber and/or water, increasing volume while keeping calories the same
  • finally, do not reward the behavior by feeding the cat early! when you do that, the cat is training you to give in to his commands

One food that several vets I talk to on another board recommend is Innova, which has a fairly low calorie density and tells you how many calories per cup or can. As mentioned above, measuring food is essential for controlling how many calories your pet gets, and what is recommended on the bag is often an overestimate for a neutered, sedentary pet.

As a parting thought, some of what people think of as normal slowing down with age in pets is actually arthritis (not necessarily as easy to spot in cats as in dogs), and being overweight puts that much more strain on their joints, making them hurt more, etc. I am still working on finding the right combination of diet restriction/playtime to slim down my overweight kitteh, but she has been much more active since I started her on meds for her arthritis. It’s not necessarily laziness or general decrepitude, it’s sometimes pain, and being overweight makes it worse.

cough Yes, I am a vet student, and my pet and I are overweight. The cobbler’s children have no shoes.

My cat is only a little fat. His fighting weight is 15 lbs according to our vet, and he’s about 16 right now. When he got up to 17 we put him on a bit of a diet (just feeding him less) and he’s pretty much back to normal now. I’m not letting him get much thinner; he had some health problems years ago that got him down to 11 lbs, and he looked like a fuzzy stick. Right now he has a little paunch but is mostly muscle rather than fat, which is his normal state of affairs. He’s easy, though. He doesn’t gain weight quickly because he mostly self-regulates, and he’s not a pest about feeding time, so it’s easy to put him on a diet.
My problem is that I have one fat, food-obsessed dog and one skinny dog that doesn’t care about food at all. So my fat dog steals her treats and sneaks her food, and she doesn’t care enough to stop him. (We usually stop him, but he’s sneaky and focused.) He had lost a couple of pounds from diligent food restriction on our parts, but I think he’s put some of the weight back on since we upped the other dog’s food for winter; he’s looking fairly fluffy. I really need to start feeding them in entirely separate rooms.


I’ve never seen a dog that wasn’t food obsessed and I’ve never seen a dog that didn’t care about food. :smiley: