Over half of the dogs in the U.S are overweight.
And the worst part? Nearly half of all dog owners aren’t even aware that their dog has weight issues. This is bad news for the health of many dogs.
We want to help pet parents take better care of their four-legged friend by recognizing when it’s time to cut back on those bacon snacks and midnight fridge raids. While every breed is different and each dog has individual diets needs, there are a few signs to watch for that can tell you it’s time to have a serious talk with your veterinarian.
#1 – You can’t feel those ribs
You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs fairly easily with just a bit of “padding” (muscle and fat) on them. If you can’t find them without pushing through layers of pudge – your dog is probably overweight.
#2 – No Definition
While all breeds have different body shapes, every dog should have some amount of definition. They should have a chest, a stomach, and a “waist.” If you can’t see these because your dog looks like a sausage with legs, it’s diet time. (Yes, this includes breeds like the Dachshund that are actually sausage shaped). Dr. Sophia Yin’s website has a great, easy to follow guide for this.
#3 – Can’t Groom Himself
Does your dog struggle to reach around to groom or scratch himself? Barring other medical or physical constrains, your dog should be able to do this with ease. If he can’t, it’s time to hit the gym!
#4 – Trouble Breathing
If your dog seems to pant a lot – even when it’s not hot, it could be due to excessive weight. (As long as you have already ruled out stress). Notice how long your dog can walk until he starts panting hard. Is it a block or a mile? A dog that gets out of breath quick is out of shape (and probably a bit chubby too!).
#5 – Trouble Getting Around
A dog should be able to get up and down easily and move quickly – as they are a naturally athletic species. Again, barring any medical issues, if your dog is having trouble getting up after lying down, or can’t jump on the couch, he has too much weight on his body.
#6 – Constipation
Dogs that are overweight also tend to have gas and other digestive issues, including constipation. If your dog has tummy issues, he may need to lose some weight and you should talk to your vet to make sure he is on the right type of diet for his age, health, and activity levels.
Still not sure if your dog is actually overweight? The VCA Animal Hospitals has a questionnaire you can fill out online to help determine if your dog is overweight or not. And, of course, your personal veterinarian can tell you as well!