Is my dog overweight?
Nov 02, 2022
According to RSPCA, veterinarians reported that 33.5% of dogs are overweight with 8% classed as obese. And this percentage is only increasing. Unfortunately, it is a growing problem that many owners fail to recognise. (1)
First of all, it can be difficult to accept your pet may not be a healthy weight. More often than not, we choose to justify our animal's weight by using phrases like; it is a breed trait, they are just well built/super lean or it is only a few extra kilos. Admitting that they are not at a healthy weight can be a big deal as nobody wants to think or feel like they are harming a family member.
However, dogs who are overweight are at risk! Just like when we, as humans, gain weight and suffer health conditions so do our pets. Over time, it greatly impacts a dog's health, both physically and mentally. According to Greencross Vets, overweight pets are more likely to be prone to joint and mobility problems, live shorter and less active lives, be prone to diabetes and much more. It is also important to remember that certain breeds may be predisposed to certain conditions so excess weight can only increase their risk.
So how do you know if your dog is under or overweight?
As humans, we often lean towards the scales to determine if we need to lose or gain weight. However, the number on the scales is only part of what helps us to understand if a dog is at a healthy weight. Although most pedigree breeds have ideal body weights, these are only guidelines and they do not help those of us who have mixed-breed dogs.
As well as weight, vets will look at the dog's body condition to help determine whether or not they are a healthy size.
The picture below is something you have probably seen before. It is a body score chart and it comes in many different forms but they all illustrates similar information. These charts give us not only a visual image but a guideline of how we can assess our own dog's weight through sight and touch.
PHOTO CREDIT TO ROYAL CANIN
The ideal body score for a dog is around 4-5 on this scale.
There are 3 areas that we focus on to help us determine where a dog sits on this scale.
There is the overhead inspection. When you look at your dog from above you should be able to see a defined waist tucked behind its ribs. The shape from above will be similar to that of an hour glass figure. If you can see your dogs ribs or if their waist seems significantly narrower than their ribs, it is likely the animal is underweight. If the waist line is in line with the ribs or even extends out past them then the animal is overweight.
Next, we have the rib examination. This is when you run your hands over your dogs ribs. (It is important to use touch here as some animals can have thick coats.) You want to be able to feel the ribs through a slight fat cover. If you struggle to do this then it is a sign the dog is overweight.
Finally, we have the profile analysis where we assess the dogs weight from side on. The best way to approach this is lower yourself so that you can see a clear side view of your dog. The dogs abdomen should be higher up than its ribcage, meaning there is a gradual incline from their front legs to the rear of their body.
Remember, do not stress if you discover your pet might not be the correct weight. We all want the best for our animals. We want them to live long, happy and healthy lives. Small changes now can have a great impact on their everyday lives and life span. Look at what you’re feeding, the amount you are feeding and how you may be able to enhance your dog's diet to help them be the healthiest version of themselves. Think about your exercise routines and how you can build on these. Take small steps.
Take some time every now and then to look at your dog and review where they are on the body score scale. Do they need to lose weight? Are they underweight?
The information provided above is for general informational purposes only. If you are concerned about your dogs weight, we highly recommend you talk to your veterinarian or an animal nutritionist.