IMPORTANT: How To Tell If Your Dog Is Overweight

Pet obesity is on the rise and it’s a killer. Overweight pets are more prone to a host of illness like arthritis, hip dysplasia, cancer, heart and liver disease, and more. For the active pet, it can mean more injuries, as their joints are stressed by the extra weight they have to carry. If you want to prolong your dog’s life and make sure it is a happy and healthy one, make sure you keep your pet at a healthy weigh.

What’s a Healthy Weight?

Just like humans, the proper weight for a dog is an individual thing, not a breed, age, sex, or size thing. That being said, you can use AKC breed standards as guidelines for your dog’s breed. Remember, though, when it comes to “weight” we are really referring to fat content. Your well-muscled canine athlete might actually weigh more than a dog that lays around the house all day, and is “fat.” In addition, if you have a mixed breed you have no “standards” to compare.

Veterinarians use a system of measurement called body scoring to determine if your dog’s weight is healthy or not. They measure the dog in several places and then create a score based on the amount of fat found with one being emaciation to 5 being obese. (

Warning Signs

Compare your dog's body shape to a chart like this one.
Compare your dog’s body shape to a chart like this one.

It can be easy to let a dog get fat. Walks get shorter or skipped, the kids get busy and stop playing ball, table scraps come in abundance, etc. It can also be easy to not notice until your dog is severely overweight. Keep these signs in mind and change your dog’s diet and exercise routine if you notice he is gaining weight.

  • Collar or harness is too tight
  • Slower moving around
  • Less energy
  • Cannot feel ribs
  • No visible “hips”

How Do You Shed the Pounds?

If after reading this article, you decide your pet could stand to lose some weight, you may be wondering how. A trip to your vet is the best place to start, because they can runs tests and make sure your dog has not health issues that need to be addressed – for example an overactive thyroid could be the weight-gaining culprit. After eliminating any health problems, your vet can also recommend a diet and exercise routine to get your pet back in shape. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has some great charts and tools to help you keep track of weight loss.

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