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National Pet Obesity Awareness Day 2023: When Is It & How Is It Celebrated?

Jeff Weishaupt

By Jeff Weishaupt

obese cat sitting on the floor

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimated 56 million cats and 50 million dogs are obese in the US.1 These projections were based on the APPA’s-provided pet population in 2018–2019. Obesity can affect your pet’s overall well-being and make it vulnerable to health issues, most of which can be fatal for your furry friend. The National Pet Obesity Awareness Day is all about creating this awareness.

This special day is observed on October’s second Wednesday every year, which will fall on the 13th in 2023. National Pet Obesity Awareness Day is a fantastic opportunity for owners to learn about healthy pet weight and balanced diet from professional vets across the US.

On this day, healthcare professionals survey different pets and pet owners to gather information about this issue to understand the situation in the country. Keep reading to learn everything you should know about this day!

A Brief History of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Humans have been keeping pets since the start of the world for many purposes. While some people used them for sledding or herding, others kept them for companionship. Over the years, we have seen a considerable increase in obesity in pets.

Excessive food and sweets consumption can harm your pet’s well-being and safety. But you won’t know it unless you don’t recognize that there is a problem. Many pet owners believe that their pet is at an average weight. However, they can unknowingly suffer from obesity.

It’s hard to believe your cat or dog is overweight, but you shouldn’t stay in denial for long. After all, obesity can lead to specific health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.

Today, more than 50% of dogs and cats are overweight, amounting to nearly 50 million dogs and 56 million cats.2 Obesity is a serious health concern, and it isn’t good to watch your pet suffer. Thus, in 2007, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) stepped in to start the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day to educate humans about obesity concerns in pets.

fat cat sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Dennis van de Water, Shutterstock

What Is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day About?

On National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, veterinarians collect data about pet weight nationwide. It will allow pet owners to log onto the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)’s website to record their pet’s weight and size.

According to APOP’s president Ernie Ward, we are experiencing the first generation of pets with pudgy pooches that might not live for long. These animals are also likely to have painful medical conditions like heart diseases, diabetes, bladder stones, cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis, and more.

Obesity refers to more than 20% of excessive body weight and fat. Extra body fat impacts a pet’s tissues and hormones. In fact, obesity is also linked with 6 to 12 months of reduced lifespan in dogs. However, humans can avoid these situations if they know the correct quantity and food for their pets.

The National Pet Obesity Awareness Day educates owners that their pets should eat moderately and exercise more. It is the same as humans. When we start overeating and don’t work out often, we gain weight and become obese over time. But little do we know that our dogs make the best gym partners.

Experts believe humans and dogs have similar exercise abilities, emotions, and dietary requirements. So, this day was specifically designated to emphasize the importance of exercise and a balanced diet to pet owners.

The 6 Ways How to Celebrate National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

1. Identity if Your Pet Is Overweight

First, you must identify if your pet has a weight management problem. Surprisingly, APOP found that a significant number of pet owners don’t realize that their dogs or cats are obese, and hence, they don’t take the necessary steps to overcome this issue. So, the best you can do for your pet this National Pet Obesity Awareness Day is to figure out if it needs help.

You can compare your pet’s shape with the American Animal Hospital Association’s body condition scoring chart. If you have no idea how this works, you can schedule a vet’s visit and let them assess your pet’s body weight.

You can also ask the professional to teach you how to check body condition scoring at home. The vet may also provide a report about your pet’s changing body weight.

Fat Shih tzu dog sitting on weight scale
Image Credit: Orawan Pattarawimonchai, Shutterstock

2. Commit to Maintaining Your Pet’s Healthy Weight

Obesity is a medical concern for pets, as it impacts not just their health but their mood as well. If your dog is overweight or will soon be, you must do something about it.

First, commit to maintaining your pet’s ideal weight. Then, talk to your vet and develop an action plan. The professional will test your pet to assess their daily nutritional requirements. Based on the results, they will give you guidelines about controlling, monitoring, and improving your pet’s weight.

3. Take Your Pet to the Park

Pets need regular mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Like humans, many pets may overeat to relieve their stress. Some also engage in destructive activities out of boredom. So, on this day, you can take your pet to the nearest part to help them socialize with other dogs and cats.

Your dog will be more active and happier when it meets other animals. You can also socialize with other pet parents and schedule playdates.

Two dogs running in the park
Image Credit: JumpStory

4. Take the Survey

You can also participate in the Pet Nutrition and Weight Management survey to give valuable input for a greater cause. With your provided data, vet experts can better tackle pet obesity issues in the US. You may even win a free copy of a book titled “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter,” by APOP’s founder Ernie Ward.

5. Give Your Pet Healthy and Delicious Snacks to Celebrate the Day

Since it’s your pet’s day, you should celebrate it with delicious snacks, right? It may seem counterintuitive, but it is far better to give your pet healthy treats than scraps from your dinner plate. You can try unflavored popcorn, fruits, and veggies your pet loves.

Remember, dogs don’t like every vegetable. Their favorite ones include broccoli, carrots, grape tomatoes, green beans, celery, and asparagus. You can opt for non-seeded apple slices, strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, bananas, and blueberries in fruits.

No matter what treats you choose, don’t give your pet more than 10% of its daily calorie intake. Doing so will satisfy your pet’s cravings and keep them at optimal weight.

young woman playing with two ragdoll cats while giving a treat
Image Credit: Atmosphere1, Shutterstock

6. Start Giving Your Pet Measured Meals

Some pet owners feed-free their dogs or cats, meaning keeping their food bowls always full. This promotes overeating in pets, as they crave more food after finishing the content in the bowl. As a result, you can end up with an overweight dog always asking for food.

Read the feeding instructions mentioned on the dog food packet to know how much one serving weighs. Alternatively, you can ask your vet to decide the ideal food proportions for your pet according to its daily activities.


The National Pet Obesity Awareness Day will be celebrated on Oct 13, 2023, or the second Wednesday of October every year. It’s the occasion where vets and healthcare professionals gather and educate pet owners about obesity and its risks.

Your pet can become obese over time, so you must know how to identify its early signs. That’s the first step in helping your furry friend overcome this issue before it leads to health issues. So, celebrate this National Pet Obesity Awareness Day by promising to improve your pet’s health.

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Featured Image Credit: Benoit Daoust, Shutterstock

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