You should be able to easily feel your pet's ribs, and there should be an obvious waste tuck just behind the rib cage. You will be able to save money on food for your pets as well as veterinary expenses because thinner pets have statistically fewer medical problems.
The Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association (JAVMA) has done studies with companion animal caretakers. The majority of owners with overweight pets did not realize their pets were overweight. Even those owners who realized their pets were overweight did not think it was a health concern.
JAVMA has also done studies indicating that veterinarians often do not recognize that pets are seriously overweight. Veterinarian associations are working to educate the veterinarians, and offer them tools to help discuss this issue with their clients.
A note here on spaying and neutering. It is a myth that neutering your pets makes them fat. Too much food and not enough exercise make them fat. I have owned 27 dogs in my lifetime - all neutered - all very fit (I only wish someone else could be responsible for how much food I consume).
I know it is tempting to spoil your pet with bigger meals and more treats. If you truly love your pet - spoil him with more cuddle time and more play time.
Shiela McGregor is a dog expert and activist in the animal rescue field. She lives in Addison County. Vt.