What are the benefits of keeping your pet at a healthy weight?

woman exercising with dog

We now know that dog owners can live a longer, healthier life, thanks to their pet companions. We can also help our pets live longer with a few simple tips.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight lowers the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease and more. In fact, excess weight can reduce your pet's life expectancy by more than two years, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

A 2017 Banfield Pet Hospital study of over 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats found that 1in 3 cats and dogs that visited a Banfield facility were overweight or obese. In the study, owners of overweight dogs spent 17% more on health care and 25% more on medications, compared with owners of healthy-weight dogs. Owners of overweight cats spent 36% more on diagnostic procedures, compared with owners of healthy-weight cats.

How do we keep Fido and Fifi’s weight healthy?

Here are tips from pet owners and our own American Heart Association Consumer Research with Pet Owners, conducted in 2019:

  • Look at the labels on the pet foods you purchase. (77% of millennial pet owners read labels on pet foods.

  • Pets and their vets should be best friends too! Regular check-ups and nutrition counseling can help keep your pet at a healthy weight.

  • Avoid feeding your pet from the table. If there are kids in the house who love sneaking food into the mouths of furry friends, keep pets out of the kitchen at mealtime.

  • Gently explain to children that pets can get all kinds of health issues if they’re overweight. Make them part of the plan for keeping their best friend healthy.

  • Keep your active with outdoor play and walking. It is OK to walk a cat on a leash.

  • Walking (or hiking) two to three times a day with a pet is healthy for you and your pet. In fact, 23% of pet owners found increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, according to our research.

  • Check out pet-friendly cities before your next road trip. A little internet research can help your pet get a vacation too.

We now know that dog owners can live a longer, healthier life. As a pet parent, we can do the same for our pets, a longer, healthier life span because they are at a healthy weight.


1 https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/your-pets-healthy-weight
2 https://www.banfield.com/Banfield/media/PDF/Downloads/soph/2017-SOPH-Infographic.pdf