While a chubby dog may seem adorable, that extra weight can actually be quite detrimental to their overall health. Here, our vets in Montecito discuss the signs of an overweight dog, share a helpful chart for visualizing your dog's weight and offer advice for keeping them lean and healthy.
How Being Overweight Affects a Dog's Health
If you think that your dog is gaining some weight, the first thing you should do is speak with your vet. They will likely want you to schedule them for an exam. During this checkup, your veterinarian will weigh your pooch, perform a thorough examination to determine your pup's overall health, and then let you know if your dog is overweight based on their breed and build.
Carrying excess weight can be a contributing factor to many serious and painful conditions in dogs. This is why it's so important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime.
Is my dog overweight?
If you think that your dog may be getting heavier but aren't entirely sure then you can consider the following things:
Do you bring your dog for daily walks and exercise?
Overweight dogs often pant even when walking relatively slowly, and may walk slower or need to take more naps than before.
Are you able to feel your dog's ribs?
When your dog is a healthy weight you should be able to lightly feel their ribs. There should not be a thick layer of fat covering them. Your dog's chest should be wider than their abdomen, and there will be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach about where their waist should be (see illustration below).
Compare Your Dog to This Overweight Dog Chart
If your dog is overweight then you will be unable to tell where their stomach meets their ribs. This overweight dog chart shows what your dog may look like from the side in each weight class.
What are some ways to help an overweight dog slim down a bit?
Weight gain on its own can cause health concerns in dogs, but it can also indicate that your pup is experiencing the symptoms of an underlying condition. If your vet determines that your pup is overweight and there are no underlying illnesses causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your pooch's weight back on track safely.
Here are some ways that you can help your pup get back to a healthy weight:
Find Ways to Get Your Dog Moving Each Day
By ensuring that your dog gets at least two walks a day and plenty of playtime (including outside play at least once a day), you can help them keep their weight within a healthy range. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog to form a closer bond as well as provide your pup with a fun way to burn a few extra calories.
Provide a Well-Balanced and Nutrient-Rich Diet
Your vet can help you with determining the caloric intake needed by your dog each day that still allows them to lose the necessary weight. Be sure your dog eats at the same time every day, and that you measure out the portions carefully based on the ideal weight for their breed (or size).
Get Advice From Your Vet
Even when you're sure that there is nothing wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams (physical checkups for your dog) are important. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's weight and spot the early signs of illness so that conditions can be treated before they become more serious.
If you place your dog on a weight loss plan, under the supervision of your vet, you will need to keep up with routine checkups to monitor your dogs progress, allowing your vet the opportunity to make adjustments to the plan as needed.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.