How to help your pet lose weight

There are many owners that are aware about their pet’s excess fat, but many struggle to find a way to help them lose weight.

Whilst obesity is extremely dangerous to any animal, dogs and cats are the most at risk of developing health issues such as cancer and heart disease. Fortunately, obesity in pets can be prevented and treated by ensuring that they’re getting enough exercise and eating the correct food.

In this guide, we’ve shared exactly why you should be concerned if your pet is storing extra fat, along with how to help them lose weight naturally.

Why is my pet overweight?

The most common reason for obesity in pets is because they’re being overfed. You must be careful not to overfeed your pet and give them controlled portions that is suitable for their size or breed.

Some pets also gain weight from being fed human food such as chocolate, biscuits and crisps, which can be really dangerous for their health.

Overeating, poor nutrition and lack of exercise can all cause obesity - human foods often have high carbohydrate levels, and can be especially dangerous to their health

Obesity can also be caused by a lack of exercise because your pet isn’t burning off the calories, fat and carbohydrates that they’re eating, meaning that it gets stored as fat.

Whilst these two issues are the most common, health factors such as pregnancy, parasite infections and hypothyroidism can also make pets more prone to becoming overweight.

Dangers of obesity

The joints, organs and bones of your pet can all be affected if they become obese.

Obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and liver disease if the fat is stored over a long period of time, so it’s essential to encourage weight loss in your dog or cat if you suspect that they’re piling on the pounds.

How to help your pet lose weight

Start by analysing the food that your pet is eating, as this is the easiest way to help them lose weight. It might be a good idea to start a food diary for your pet, so you can understand how much they are consuming each week.

Consult with your vet to determine the most suitable diet for them and how much to feed them each day – and be sure to stick to this. Scales are a great way to ensure you are giving your pet the quantities of food that they need to maintain a healthy weight.

Remember that as your dog or cat gets older, their food requirements change. Older pets for example require less food than younger animals, as they aren’t as active, so the calories are less likely to be burnt off and this excess energy can turn into fat.

Health supplements can also be added to your pet’s food to help them get their nutrition, making them much healthier and able to cut the fat.


Overweight dogs should be prompted to exercise more. You can do this by gradually taking them on longer, more strenuous daily walks in order to burn energy that is being stored in their body. This can also help you to get fitter, too!

Obese cats can be especially difficult to help, as they spend more time away from home


Because cats are generally more independent pets and spend more time outside alone, it may be more difficult to help your cat lose weight.

Cats should be encouraged to play more when they’re indoors, so grab a few of their favourite toys and prompt them to burn some energy when practicing their hunting skills.

You can also place their food and water dishes in a place where they’re forced to move to get to. Consider moving them to a higher surface where they have to jump to reach, or a different room in the house from where they tend to spend the most time.


Even though these simple steps should be encouraged for pets that are overweight, you may need to consult the advice of your vet to find the best steps for your pet’s weight, age and breed.

Looking for more dog advice?

Find the information you need as we support you through every step of your journey with your canine companion.


Need dog insurance?

Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £8.5 million to more than 800 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.