Pet Obesity Stats, Facts and Risks 2019

We all know that human obesity is a massive issue of nowadays.

As explained by the World Health Organization (WHO) obesity is an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that entails health impair risks.

According to WHO human obesity has nearly tripled globally since 1975.

But what about our pets? Are they also vulnerable to overweight and obesity these days?

The unified data collected by us from various resources suggests that unfortunately yes – obesity today is a major issue not only for people but also for pets.

Importantly, 90% of overweight cat owners and 95% of overweight dog owners incorrectly identify their pet's weight as normal and are therefore unaware of their pet’s weight associated health risks.

We, humans, more or less got used to dealing with the challenge of human obesity during the last few decades. Thankfully, today we know the effective ways of preventing and overcoming it. But now as it turns out that there is also pet obesity in the world, we need to learn the ways of dealing with that as well.

There are certainly some obvious methods that are on the surface and no research needed to guess them like exercising. Yes, to stay fit your dogs, cats and even rabbits need exercise just like you do:

Source: Pet Obesity: Five Years On Report, PFMA (UK)

If your dog is overweight, it is wise to choose such a leather dog collar at which the dog´s neck size will match with the last hole on the collar and be so prepared for future weight loss. Being slightly overweight does not mean that high-quality and stylish collars can not be worn.

But let’s nevertheless dive a little deeper and see what exactly is going on with pet obesity in the World and how we should be approaching this issue.

Body Condition Score Chart for Dogs:

Muscle Condition Score Chart for Dogs:

Body Condition Score Chart for Cats:


Muscle Condition Score Chart for Cats:


Dogs Obesity and Overweight Statistics:

  • 56% of all dogs in the US (2 million) are either overweight or obese (compared to 54% in 2016 and 52.7% in 2014). 

  • 36.4% of them are overweight.

  • 19.6% are obese (compared to 19.8% in 2016 and 17.6% in 2014).

  • 42.9% of all dogs in the US are of normal weight.

  • 0.8% are thin.

  • And 0.3% are too thin.

  • In the UK the percentage of overweight and obese dogs is 45%.

  • 50% of veterinarians and only 5% of four-legged friend owners in the US think that corn is healthy for dogs.

  • 30% of veterinarians and 63% of dog owners disagree with this.

  • And 31% of dog owners and 20% of veterinarians admitted that they have no clue about it.

  • 69% of veterinarians prefer dry kibble for dogs.

  • 53% of pet owners agree with them.

  • Only 12% of vets prefer canned/moist food for dogs.

  • And only 17% of pet owners agree with them.

  • Diet restriction increases the lifespan of dogs by up to 1.8 years (16%). When transferred to human lifespan in the US this makes 12.6 years difference!

Source: APOP & Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (May 1, 2002, Vol. 220, No. 9)

  • 25% fewer calories will keep alive approximately 37.5% of dogs whereas 100% of them with no calorie restriction whatsoever would otherwise not survive at all.

Source: APOP & Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (January 15, 2005, Vol. 226, No. 2)



Cats Obesity and Overweight Statistics:

  • 60% of all cats in the US (56.5 million) are either overweight or obese (compared to 59% in 2016 and 57.9% in 2014).

  • 26.5% of them are overweight.

  • 33.5% are obese (compared to 30.9% in 2016 and 28.1% in 2014).

  • 37.8% are normal.

  • 1.8% are thin.

  • 0.4% are too thin.

  • In the UK the percentage of overweight cats is slightly above 40%.

  • A similar study has been performed in the Netherlands where 45.5% of the cats were assessed as overweight and 4.5% were assessed as obese.

  • 57% of US veterinarians prefer dry kibble for cats.

  • 49% of four-legged friend owners agree with them.

  • 33% of vets prefer canned/moist food for cats.

  • And 38% of cat owners agree with them.

  • 34% of veterinarians and only 3% of American pet owners think that corn is healthy for cats.

  • 46% of veterinarians and 63% of pet owners disagree with this.

  • And 34% of cat owners and 20% of veterinarians admitted that they have no clue about it.



General Pet Nutrition and Overweight/Obesity Stats and Facts:

  • Currently, more than 100 million pets are overweight or obese in the US.

  • 48 percent of four-legged friend owners said that they received no recommendation from their veterinarian about the best routine/maintenance diet to feed their pets.

  • 15% of them received the recommendations only after asking for it.

  • 65% of pet owners and 67% of veterinarians in the US think that “people food” is unhealthy for the pets.

  • Accordingly, 74% of them give pets “store bought” treats.

  • In the UK these numbers are somewhat comparable as around 1/3 of pet owners actually use “people food” to treat their pets.

  • 35% of US pet owners and 31% of veterinarians believe that feeding a predominantly canned/moist food will actually damage their pet’s teeth.

  • At the same time, 39% of pet owners and 58% of veterinary professionals consider this perfectly safe their pet’s teeth.

  • And the remaining 26% of pet owners and 11% of veterinarians are not sure about this.


  • 98% of veterinary professionals and 87% of pet owners think that pet obesity is a significant problem in the US.

  • 55% of veterinarians and 51% of pet owners are worried about the quality of pet’s food affecting their long-term health.

  • 99% of veterinarians and 98% of pet owners believe that quality nutrition can extend a pet’s life expectancy.

  • Despite all the pet obesity and overweight data 87% of US veterinarians and 81% of pet owners consider their pet’s current weight as normal and healthy.

  • In the UK this number is lower as 77% of vets actually believe pet obesity is on the rise:

Source: Pet Obesity: Five Years on Report, PFMA (UK)


  • Nevertheless, this does not equally apply to UK pet owners as 63% of them believe their pet has correct weight and 2/3 of them feel that their pets face more important issues than overweight and obesity.

  • Interestingly, only 37% of pet owners in the UK know how to check their pets’ weight.

  • And in fact, 30% of pet owners never check their pets’ weight.

  • More than that, 68% of pet owners do not adhere to professional guidance when deciding portion size for their pets in the UK.

  • 76% of veterinary professionals said that commercial pet food is better today than it was 10 years ago.

  • 63% pet owners agree with them and 39% of them also think that organic pet foods are actually healthier for their pets (40% of pet owners are not sure about this but also do not disagree with this statement).

  • 95% of US pet owners visited their veterinarian during 2016 (approximately the same numbers can be guesstimated for 2017 and 2018).

  • 50% of them actually discussed with their veterinarian their pet’s ideal or healthy weight.

  • 33% of pet owners give their pets vitamins or nutritional supplements.


Main Risk Factors of Pet Obesity (most of them are preventable):

  • Diminished quality of life
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Kidney Disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  • Cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy
  • Orthopedic disease
  • Skin disorders
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Endocrine disorders


Tips to keep your pets healthy and avoid overweight/obesity related issues:

1.   Regularly monitor your pet’s weight

Being aware of what is going on is always helpful. Any issue you face is better solved when you have enough information about it. The same applies to pet obesity. You need to regularly monitor your pet’s weight to know what is going on and to be able to identify the moment when you need to take action such as adding more exercise, seeing the vet or starting a diet.

2.   Don’t guess and follow the professional recommendations (they exist for a reason)

People tend to ignore the original purpose of professional guides and recommendations. However, their number one goal is to make your and your pet’s life easier. Try to avoid guessing and follow the professional recommendations when it comes to the health of your pet and it should help you to avoid many potential health issues.

3.   Treat responsibly

Human food is not always the perfect option for your pet. There are many factors to be taken into account about proper treating. Try to make sure that you approach this part with the due responsibility and exactly know what you are doing.

4.   Don’t overfeed

We know that overeating is not a healthy habit. The same applies to pets. Do not overfeed them for any reason. Instead, keep them fed in a balanced and healthy manner.

5.   Give your pet exercise

As we have already seen above exercising is necessary for pets to stay healthy. Try to provide your pets enough exercising opportunities. This is highly important for a happy and healthy pet life.




World Small Animal Veterinary Association

Pet Food Manufacturing Association

Veterinary Research Institute