German Shephers and tabby cat smelling food bowl at home

Pet nutrition and healthy weight

The right nutrition for every cat and dog

Our Institute’s scientists have been at the forefront of pet nutrition research for over 50 years. Through their collaborations, they have been focusing on finding the optimal balance between nutrients so that both cats and dogs can thrive at all moments in their lives. 

Throughout the past decades, our teams have identified: 

This research helps in the development and continuous improvement of Mars Petcare’s products and services, including leading pet nutrition brands, such as ROYAL CANIN®, PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®.  

As we move into the era of preventive and predictive pet health, our ambition is to advance our understanding of the pet microbiome so we can tailor nutrition solutions to the needs of every cat and dog and prevent possible diseases.

Weight management: the danger of pet obesity

Pet obesity is a major health concern: more than half of all cats and dogs around the world are overweight or obese.  

An increasing issue, pet obesity is linked to other serious diseases like arthritis, diabetes, or cardiovascular problems. Thanks to our research, we now know the impact this disease can have on pets. One of our recent studies shows overweight dogs may live up to 2.5 years less than dogs at a normal weight.  

Understanding the causes behind this disease can help veterinarians and owners find efficient ways to manage and even prevent it.  

Infographic: the impact of obesity on pets' lifespan

Measuring pets’ healthy growth

Our partnership with BANFIELD Pet Hospital and the university of Liverpool’s ROYAL CANIN® Weight Management Clinic led to the first puppy growth charts, which are helping veterinarians and owners measure puppies’ healthy development and identify the ideal weight they should maintain in adulthood. 


How puppy growth charts can help prevent pet obesity

Recent research shows how the WALTHAM™ Puppy Growth Charts can help owners and veterinarians monitor puppies’ healthy development. In this new study, researchers and veterinarians at Waltham, BANFIELD Pet HospitalUCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and Institute of Life Course and Medical Sciences, University of Liverpool compared the growth curves included in the puppy charts with the growth patterns in both healthy dogs, dogs that were overweight or too thin, or and dogs that had various diseases associated to abnormal growth.  By analysing data from the ROYAL CANIN® Research Center in France, Waltham and the BANFIELD Pet Hospital network in the US, the researchers found that

  • almost 7 in 10 dogs that developed obesity by 3 years of age grew faster than the growth standards predicted
  • almost 1 in 2 dogs that became underweight by 3 years gained weight slower than expected


Learn more about how data insights can help veterinarians and owners manage and prevent pet obesity

Download the puppy growth charts

Working in partnership to understand a complex disease

Genetics, the environment and pets’ nutrition are all factors leading to the onset of this condition. That is why we are partnering with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to address pet obesity from a multidisciplinary perspective. In 2019, we helped bring together experts in both human and animal health to encourage knowledge sharing across both fields and identify new ways to tackle the disease. 

This Vet Record Special Issue includes a comprehensive overview of the health issue and experts’ takes on tackling it, following the roundtable event.  

Helping pet owners prevent pet obesity

Our researchers teamed up with data scientists and veterinarians at Kinship Partners, Inc and the University of Aberdeen to study the number of calories dogs of different shapes and sizes typically burn. The new WHISTLE algorithm can now calculate personalised food portions for each individual dog wearing a WHISTLE activity monitor. Read more about this story on the WHISTLE website.  

Visit our resources page to learn how to help your pet stay at a healthy weight.  

Read more about our ambition to advance preventive pet healthcare

Thought leaders

How data science lets us do more than just chew the fat on pet obesity

If you asked me to name the greatest health challenges facing our pets today, obesity would be top of the list. Currently more than half of all pets in the US and UK are considered overweight or obese, making it a hugely common and concerning problem.

Obesity in the spotlight at London Vet Show

Currently, around half of the UK's pet dogs and cats are considered overweight[i], and has been identified by the veterinary profession as a major health and welfare concern. Indeed, in a recent that I collaborated on with Mars Petcare's Waltham Petcare Science Institute, there was an association 


Listen in to Dr. Patricia Harris, Director of Science for Mars Horse Care and Head of the Equine Studies Group at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, as she shares how horse owners can determine a horse’s body condition, help them lose weight, as well as other strategies to prevent obesity.