Pet owners and veterinary teams must work together to end pet obesity, according to new AAHA guidelines

Two cats eating out of their bowls

[LAKEWOOD, CO]—July 7,2021—The American Animal Hospital Association just released the 2021 AAHA Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, which encourage veterinary practices to claim their role as experts in pet nutrition and take the lead in helping prevent and treat obesity.

AAHA’s task force of veterinary communication and nutrition experts provide concrete guidance and resources in the 2021 AAHA Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, which identify five vital physical assessments that should be incorporated into every physical exam.

While veterinary teams automatically perform four of these vital physical assessments (temperature, pulse, respiration, and pain), there is a tendency to skip the fifth: a nutritional assessment. 

“Regular monitoring and tracking of body weight, body condition score, and muscle condition score allow the veterinary team to track trends over time, spotting diseases earlier and providing evidence-based intervention tips for clients,” said AAHA Deputy CEO Janice Trumpeter, DVM, “These guidelines emphasize starting nutrition conversations early, and continuing them at every annual exam.”

“Veterinary teams shy away from the nutrition conversation because it’s not easy, and can bring up a lot of emotions in clients,” said AAHA Chief Medical Officer Heather Loenser, DVM. “These guidelines provide very specific communications tactics to be sensitive to the emotional response, while also addressing internet myths and sensitive topics like obesity.”

Using recommendations from veterinary communication and nutrition experts, these guidelines provide practical and efficient methods for veterinary teams to gather and convey critical nutritional information as part of regular nutritional assessments.

The guidelines give veterinary teams insight into:

  • What triggers an extended nutritional assessment
  • Different nutritional support for hospitalized patients
  • Calculating beyond RER
  • Animal factors (age, sex, breed, lifestyle, spay/neuter status) to consider in obesity prevention
  • Nutrients of concern for diseases and specific conditions

Learn more about the 2021 AAHA Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats at

The 2021 AAHA Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats are supported by generous educational grants from Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets, and Royal Canin®. 


About AAHA

Since 1933, the American Animal Hospital Association has been the only organization to accredit veterinary hospitals throughout the United States and Canada according to more than 900 standards directly correlated to high-quality medicine and compassionate care. Accreditation in veterinary medicine is voluntary. The AAHA-accredited logo is the best way to know a practice has been evaluated by a third-party. Look for the AAHA logo or visit