Keeping the pet well-fed is a goal shared by all responsible dog owners, but did you know obesity is just as hazardous as being too thin? If you're concerned about the pounds your pup has been packing lately, there are a few simple methods to determine if he's actually overweight.
- You can learn a lot about your dog's health just by rubbing his rib cage. Lay your fingers against the sides of his body behind his shoulders and gently feel around the area. While a little fat under the skin is perfectly fine, you shouldn't need to press hard to feel each rib clearly. The pup may be over his healthy weight If you need to press firmly to feel his ribs or if the skin covering them rolls into folds larger than half an inch. You should also be able to feel his spine, hips and shoulder bones without much effort.
- When looking at your dog from the side, his tummy should angle upwards in a nearly straight line towards his groin area. For most dogs, the ribs and chest should be the lowest part of their torso's profile when they stand on four legs. If your dog's tummy sags below his rib cage and doesn't slope steadily upwards towards his back legs, then your pup may be considered overweight or obese, according to The Bill Foundation. From a top-down view, your pet's body should have a slight hourglass shape. Healthy dogs have a distinct waistline in front of their hips.
- Even a few pounds over the "ideal" weight for your dog can put a damper on his energy levels. If he is reluctant to exercise, or seems to run out of steam much sooner than he did in the past, then his body weight may be holding him back. Being overweight discourages him from exercising, which only accelerates excessive weight gain. Bearing too much fat inhibits his heart, lungs and digestive system. It also makes him more vulnerable to infectious diseases and joint problems.
Ask the Veterinarian
- Take your pup in for a checkup and talk to your vet about his body weight. If he believes your pet needs to shed a few pounds, ask about safe weight loss strategies, including daily calorie allotment and meal frequency. Check the label on your pet's food to find the calorie content and recommended portion size. If you leave food your dog's bowl out all day, there's a good chance that overeating rather than unhealthy food is responsible for his weight gain. Feed your dog according to your vet's recommendations regarding daily calorie and nutrient consumption.
From a top-down view, your pet's body should have a slight hourglass shape. Healthy dogs have a distinct waistline in front of their hips.