National Pet Obesity Month

October is National Pet Obesity month and while the humans in our country and around the world struggle with rising obesity numbers, our pets do too. In fact over 50% of all pets in the United States are overweight or obese. Look around, if you have two pets at home, chances are one of them needs your help! And that’s just what we want to do with this post; help you by providing knowledge and the tools you will need to help bring your pet back into the safe zone when it comes to weight.

Why worry about an obese pet? The data strongly suggests that slim pets live longer lives, have fewer medical issues (and bills!) and are generally happier.

Fair warning, this is going to get a bit wordy. It will only take about 10 minute to read but if you’re looking for the short/sweet TL;DR version, this is for you:

  1. Your goal isn’t to reach an optimal weight, but to maintain an optimal weight for life.
  2. Use the Body Conditioning Score card from
  3. Talk to your vet to make a weight reduction plan and to make sure the weight gain isn’t due to a disease.
  4. Please don’t jump to a low fat food or starve your pet
  5. Dog’s and Cat’s lose weight differently
    1. Dogs: it’s pretty easy to both increase activity and reduce calories
    2. Cats: increasing activity requires creativity but reduce those calories too

How To Tell If Your Pet Is Perfect or Plump.

The site has a wonderful graphic to help you determine where you pet is on a scale of 1-5. We suggest that you start here so you’ll have a ballpark figure of just how much help your pet needs.

For most situations it is recommended that you do your best to keep Biscuit in the middle at number 3. You want to be able to easily feel (not necessarily see) your pet’s ribs and they should have a waist when viewed from above and from the side.

Welp, My Pet is Overweight. What Now?

There are many factors that can cause or contribute to weight gain in any pet and a trip to your vet should be the starting point before you begin any weight loss endeavor. But losing weight is easy right? It certainly can be, but it’s best to rule out any possible disease-related weight gain causes.

Slim pets live longer, healthier lives

Diseases aside, just like us, the number one reason for pets to gain weight is too much food. If you find your pet falls under the overweight category, after ruling out any medical cause you are not alone!

What we do NOT suggest doing is making the jump to a low-fat formulation diet or even worse a starvation diet. Both of these options will get your pet’s weight down but have a very high risk of unhealthy side effects. We’re all about health here and we didn’t get overweight in a day so we can’t expect to lose it all in a day either.

There is no one size fits all solution to reducing your pet’s weight. Dogs and cats really are going to walk different paths here, but we’ve laid out some great pet specific information below to help you be successful.


Dog’s absolutely can lose weight by reducing caloric intake but we strongly suggest you do this slowly. You can also increase your dog’s activity level. The side benefit here is that increasing your dog’s activity level might just increase your activity level too!

Adjusting Calories

Total weight loss from dropping calories really shouldn’t exceed 10% overall and no more than 1% per week.

What does that mean? Let’s say we have a dog that’s a BCS of 4 on the body conditioning score from above and she weighs 50 lbs. This pet is overweight but not obese and according to PetMD has an ideal weight of 40 lbs. Using calories alone, we shouldn’t target more than a total loss of 5 lbs or exceed 0.5 lbs per week.

This seems slow and it seems like a small total amount, but 5 lbs is half of the total goal and can be achieved just in time to look amazing for the Holidays! Problem (almost) solved!

Also keep in mind that not all food is created equal. While dogs can consume and extract nutrients out of vegetables and fruits, even the best kibble is still going to be almost 50% binding agents. Wet and frozen raw food will give your pet all the nutrition it needs without the added weight from the binders.

So how do we consistently reduce calories? We have found that not all cups measure out to “1 cup” and the proper suggested daily amount of food can look pretty small when Biscuit gives you the “eyes” right after dinner.

BPE has free 8 ounce cups available in both of our stores to help in the measuring of your food. Also keep in mind that a begging dog isn’t always a hungry dog and we don’t want to substitute food for affection. Try playing with your dog instead of giving it treats. Even a short romp session or a walk will elevate the oxytocin levels in both you and your pet.

If you do decide to switch foods you will soon be able to head over to our upcoming post for a handy guide on calculating daily feeding size based on the caloric density of your old food and your new food. Stay tuned!

Keep in mind that kCal/day estimates are just that, estimates. Watch your pet as these values can vary as much as 30%.

Increasing Activity

Weight loss through exercise can be successful through a plethora of ways.

  • A short walk every day
  • Move your game of fetch to a hilly area
  • Use a puzzle feeder dish or toy during meal time
  • Laser pointers

Do keep in mind that the top tier of very obese dogs will need a gradual introduction to exercise. Slow is the name of the game. Increase the pet’s activity by 1min a day until a goal of 10 minutes a day is reached. You can slowly increase from here up, with the 1min a day guidelines.


Weight loss through calorie reduction is a pretty good solution for cats. When it comes to increasing activity though, it can be hit or miss. They are notoriously independent (also one of their most enduring traits) and most of them aren’t willing to go for a jog or play fetch.

Adjusting Calories

Just like with our dog example, we need to estimate a cat’s ideal body weight. This can be tricky and we do suggest talking to your vet, but a domestic house cat’s ideal weight is typically 10 to 12 pounds. The following chart would suggest that for an overweight cat trying to get down to 10 lbs, it should take in 170 kcal/day.

Weight loss through changing the diet is suggested to take place gradually as cats are notorious for being picky and not liking change in food. We suggest that you take 1 to 2 weeks to convert your cat from one food to another.

There is good news here! Cats are obligate carnivores and have evolved to get both nutrition and moisture from their food. Any cat that is exclusively eating kibble will see a decrease in weight just by switching some calories from dry kibble to wet or raw food.

Keep in mind that kCal/day estimates are just that, estimates. Watch your pet as these values can vary as much as 30%.

Increasing Activity

Weight loss through exercise is a creative process with cats. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but each cat truly is a snowflake. Through the years we have come up with the following suggestions for cat owners looking for get their cats to be more active.

  • Try relocating the food dish even at every meal. If you have multiple floors, move it upstairs and downstairs.
  • Use a puzzle feeders for cats
  • Get rid of the gravity feeder
  • Rotate their toys so it seems like they get something new every couple days
  • Laser pointers

Engaging your cat in some chase type play behavior for 10 minutes a day twice a day can help shed the chub.


So that’s a LOT of information. Take a breath and let it all sink in. Keep in mind that the final goal isn’t just reaching the optimal weight, it’s maintaining that optimal weight long-term. We have a nice big scale here at our Eastside location that anyone can use. Come on in and once a month for your food or supplies and hop on the scale at the same time!

We hope this was as informative and interesting as it was useful. Please let us know in the comments below if you’ve had success reducing your pet’s weight in the past or if you have a specific situation that we might be able to help with.