Not sure if your dog is fat?

Share Button

dog on scaleIn the last post, we discussed the sad and alarming facts and figures related to the National dog weight/obesity problem.  Today we will talk about how you can evaluate if your pet is overweight and identify some of the more common reasons that can result in weight gain.

How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

There are several ways to determine if your dog is overweight or not.  First and foremost, you should check in with your vet!  They can advise you as to a safe and proper target weight for your pet.  There are some other great resources that are available as references in the event that you want to do a little research ahead of your vet appointment:

1- Purina Body Condition Score. The “gold standard” for assessing whether or not your dog is over (or under) weight is the Purina Body Condition Score.  You will probably recall seeing this iconic visual at your vet’s office or while you were surfing the web.  Click here to see a copy.

As you can see, Purina uses a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the most thin and 10 being the most fat and 5 being “just right”.  Use the pictures on the right side of this picture to assess your dog’s condition.  Remember to look at both the top and side views of your dog.  Optimally, you should see a slight tuck in your dog’s waist from the side and a noticeable reduction in circumference from the dog’s chest to their waist when viewing from above.   Be honest with your assessment as you view and palpate your dog!

2- Statistics.  Yes, I said statistics but don’t run and hide.  In this case, I am referring to your breed’s average weight and the range of weights most normally seen in your breed of dog.  You can find a list of breeds and their weight statistics by clicking here.

Using this chart, you can see ‘normal’ weights for your type of dog.  Please be aware that even if your dog is heavier than the normal upper value for their breed, it does not guarantee that you dog is overweight.  As with people, some dogs have bigger frames or more muscle than average for a given breed and these stats do not reflect that.  Use the chart as a guide only.

How did this happen?

OK, let’s say that your dog is overweight.  I am sorry to say, but this is not a “dog problem” it is a “people problem”. so don’t get mad at Fido.  The way that you and your family interact with and care for your dog is the primary reason that your dog is overweight (notwithstanding the occasional cases where your dog has a medical issue driving the weight gain).

It can be very helpful to reflect back and try and uncover some of the reasons why this happened.  Here is a list of some common human behaviors that can lead to weight gain.

– Lack of knowledge about how much you should feed your dog given their age and activity level.

– Failure to properly measure food servings.

– Failure to account for ‘treats’ and human snacks that are provided to your dog each day.

– Lack of proper exercise for your dog.

In our next post in this series, we will provide suggestions on how to change these behaviors and provide some quick and easy ways to get started with a canine weight management program.


Share Button