How to tell if your dog is overweight

7th September 2017Dog Care, Pet CareLeave a comment

dog overweight french bulldog

In the current day it is more common to see over weight dogs then under weight dogs, for various reasons Veterinary Surgeons are seeing overweight and obese dogs more and more frequently. Unfortunately, this does not come without added secondary complications, especially in their senior years, with an increase in weight we also see an increased risk of Diabetes Mellitus, arthritis, and heart disease to name a few. But before we start tackling weight loss, we first need to recognise the problem, so how can you tell if your dog is overweight?

Veterinary Surgeons and Nurses, use a scale named ‘body condition score’ to assess a dog’s weight, created by Royal Canin, this scoring system grades dog (and cats) out of nine based on their appearance and palpation of their body. From here, a plan can be decided to help the animal reach an ideal score (4-5/9).

We would always advise a check up with either your Vet or Nurse before putting your pet on a diet, but if you are concerned your pet maybe carrying extra weight, this handy guide may help with confirming your suspicions.

  1. Look at your pet from the side
    If your dog is at an ideal weight, they should have a gradual tuck from the line between the rib cage and abdomen. If your pet is overweight, this ‘tuck’ will be less obvious or even non-existent, in contrast, if this tuck is extremely pronounced the dog may be underweight.
  2. Look at your pet from above
    When you dog is at an ideal weight a clearly defined waist behind their ribs should be obvious. The shape of the rib cage should be clear but the actual ribs should not be prominent. A dog that is carrying extra weight will have a non visible waistline and may not even have a visible rib cage.
  3. Feel your dog’s rib cage
    While running your hand lightly along your dog’s rib cage you should be just be able to feel each rib. If you cannot feel each rib on light palpation, this will generally be due to an excess layer of fat in this region, this would indicate that your pet is over weight. Alternatively, if each rib feels prominent it is likely that your pet maybe underweight.
  4. Feel along your dog’s spine
    Once again using only the lightest touch, run your fingers along the spine of your pet. At a healthy weight, you will be able to feel individual vertebrae under the skin but they won’t be too obvious. If the dog is extremely over weight you may find that you not even be able to feel any of the individual vertebrae.

Some owners may feel cruel putting their dog on a diet, but it is important to understand that over weight pets are at an increased risk of various diseases and a lesser quality of life but with an adequate plan and a bit of determination, healthy weight loss can be easily achieved, if you need any additional advice or support be sure to contact your veterinary practice, most of which will now offer free weight loss advice clinics.
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