healthy weights for dogs and cats

Dog weighing machine

When it comes to poundage, where does your pet weigh in?

How much your pet weighs is a big part of their overall wellness. It has lots to do with not just how they look, but how they feel — and it can have a real impact on their overall health and energy level. Pet obesity is a serious problem that can lead to avoidable diseases, but it can definitely be addressed in fun and simple ways. We’re here for health, happiness, and happily bouncing and pouncing cats and dogs. 

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Pets like dieting about as much as you do, and may beg, act out, or even nab food from people, pets, or the trash. If you’re having a real issue with resistance, it can help to talk to your vet.

What’s a healthy weight, and why does it matter?

A young male veterinarian squatting next to a dog to check its weight while the owner of the dog stands next to him at the Banfield Pet Hospital

Is your pet too skinny, too chubby, or just right?

With pets, weight isn’t so much about an ideal number on a scale, but whether they have the right amount of padding for their age and size. Take a good look at your pet from the side and above, and take this quick test. If your pet falls on either extreme, it’s time to see the vet.

  • Very thin: Severely defined ribs and waist
  • Thin: Easily visible ribs and waist
  • Ideal weight: Ribs easily felt, but not seen, with an obvious waist
  • Overweight: Ribs not easily seen or felt
  • Obese: Ribs not easily seen or felt, with no waist at all

Health conditions related to weight


Pet obesity is an epidemic for dogs and cats. One out of every 3 pets are considered overweight or obese, which can lead to disease and illness, and also aggravate chronic conditions. The right diet and exercise can help.


Diabetes is a serious, life-threatening condition that occurs when the body is unable to regulate their own blood sugar levels. Happily, it can be managed, and many pets can still live an active and joyful life. See more about pet diabetes


It can be difficult for cats (and even dogs) to gain weight after illness, surgery, or other stressful events. Getting your underweight cat back to a healthy weight has its own unique challenges, so be prepared.

A young female veterinarian squatting and petting a dog while the owner holds it at the Banfield Pet Hospital
A young female veterinarian checking the weight of a cat at the Banfield Pet Hospital

Why your pet’s weight is so important

Even if your pet is not currently overweight, you should keep an eye out. Obese pets have a shorter life expectancy than pets with normal body weights, and run a higher risk for joint, cardiac, and respiratory diseases.

A young female veterinarian examining a cat while the owner holds it at the Banfield Pet Hospital

Breed and age can affect your pet’s weight

Your pet’s ideal weight can be influenced by many things, including their breed, diet, activity level, and age. Senior pets, especially those 10 or above, and large breed dogs in particular are more prone to weight gain.

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