Many of our furry friends can become overweight or obese for a variety of reasons. As their guardians, it’s important that we keep an eye on their health so that they are as comfortable and happy as can be. Excess weight can lead to a myriad of issues, like arthritis, heart disease or diabetes. If you’re unsure whether your pet is at a healthy size, check out the following methods to determine if they’re overweight.
1. Know the weight range for your dog’s size and breed.
Each breed of dog has a standard size and weight bracket they should fall into. Female dogs generally weigh less and some dogs, like English mastiffs or bulldogs, carry a bit of extra muscle as a trait of their breed. English Bulldogs, for instance, typically weigh between 49-55 lbs. Do some research and ask your vet about your dog’s particular breed expectations around their size and weight.
2. Feel for your pup’s rib cage.
You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without seeing them. If they’re visible, your pet may be underweight; if you can’t feel them without applying firm pressure, then your pet may be carrying excess pounds. This usually goes hand in hand with waist definition (below).
3. Check for waist definition.
If you look down at your dog from above, their waist should taper in after their rib cage, not stay the same width to their rear (think: hourglass). If their waist is not present, then it’s possible that your furry friend is in need of an adjustment to their diet and exercise routine.
4. Ask your vet!
If you’re unsure about your dog’s weight (or any health-related issues, for that matter), then it’s a good rule of thumb to call your veterinarian. Being around your own dog every day may skew your perception of a healthy size, but your vet should be able to easily tell if your pet is struggling with their weight. Your vet can give you helpful tips on your dog’s weight loss needs as well as rule out any underlying causes of your pooch’s additional mass.
5. Tips for helping an overweight pup shed a few pounds.
The two most helpful steps in getting your dog to a healthy weight are to increase their exercise and decrease their caloric intake.
Add an extra block or two to their daily walks or encourage them to play fetch with some new tennis balls. If you have long days at work, consider hiring a dog walker to help Fido get those extra steps in. Increase exercise gradually to avoid injury to your beloved friend!
Check the label on your pet’s food to see how much they should be consuming each day. You may find that they’ve been eating in excess, causing your pet to gain extra pounds. Table scraps and treats can add a lot of calories as well; try giving your pet healthier options like carrots or celery as a snack. You may find that your pet enjoys something healthy that you never thought they’d like! And as always, be sure to consult with your vet when it comes to adjusting your companion’s diet and exercise routine.