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Is Your Dog Overweight?

Often with the New Year, we try to stick with our New Year’s resolutions; a common resolution is to lose weight and get in shape. Did you ever wonder if you might need to include your four-legged friend in this resolution? PetPartners, Inc., the provider of the AKC Pet Healthcare Plans, often sees many claims related to obesity in dogs, and in many cases, these claims are avoidable.

How do you determine if your four- legged friend needs to shed a few pounds? There are several things you can take into consideration when trying to answer this question. Veterinarians often use a 9- point scoring system to evaluate the body condition of pets. A point value of 1 means the dog is extremely thin to the point of emaciation. A score of 9 means the pet is grossly overweight. A score of 5 is ‘just right’. To determine body score, there are several specific areas of the dog to consider. Remember these are general guidelines.

Areas to observe on your Dog:
Ribs: Feel your dogs ribs: you should be able to quite easily feel the ribs. There should be a slight amount of fat over them, but each rib should be distinct. If you can see the ribs, the pet is too thin. If you can’t feel them at all, the pet is very overweight.

Base of the tail: There should be a slight amount of fat covering over this area and it should feel smooth. If the bones protrude, the pet is too thin; if you can’t feel any bones at all, the pet is very overweight.

Spine, Shoulder and Hips: These are considered the bony prominences on your dog; again you should be able to feel a small amount of fat over these areas. If these bones are easily felt or visible, the dog or cat is too thin. If you can’t feel the bones beneath the layer of fat, the animal is obviously overweight.

Glance down at your dog from above: Your dog should have a definite waist behind the ribs. If the waist is extreme, or again, bony prominences are visible, the animal is too thin. If there is no waist, or worse yet, the area between the ribs and hips is wider than the hips or ribs, your dog is grossly overweight.

Please see the below chart:

Remember the above references are guidelines, if you feel your dog is overweight, consult your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to determine if there are any medical problems causing the increased weight and will be able to suggest the best weight reduction program for your dog.

20 comments on “Is Your Dog Overweight?

  1. My golden retriever is a bit on the chubby side. This is due to my relocating and work schedule – we’ve both packed on weight due to the loss of our daily 5 mile walk. She’s already on a low-diet food and I’ve cut back her daily intake. We never really were into treats so much, but yet she’s still not losing any weight. Our vet suggested green beans as fillers. She’s not having it! She digs them out and sets them on the floor beside her bowl and polishes off her kibble. Our walks are 3x/day (2 around the block & 1 that is a mile or so), but this obviously isn’t enough. Any suggestions?

    • I make the food for my 2 Newfoundlands – a breed that tends to get porky. The vet is very pleased with their weight. Cooked brown Organic rice. Steamed hormone/antibiotic free chicken leg quarters. Carrots, green beans, cole slaw, sweet potatoes, any organic vegetables I have. My 2 old Newfs died at 14 years with no cancer. I split up their food so that they get 2 meals – breakfast and dinner. Occasionally some organic beef or wild salmon. A vet once asked if he could come to dinner and have dog food !

    • My golden is also overweight and he is 6 years old. He goes walking with me in the golf course 4x a week. He was just at the vet and now he half the treats in A.M. before I leave for work and he only had 1 cup of Science Diet Light for dinner with a 1/2 can of IAMS, he still looks for food after he licks the bowl dry and makes me feel so bad. I know that I am doing the right thing by him but he doesn’t know that. I love him with all my heart and he is my bestest friend in the whole world. Very smart and understands me when I speak to him. But he needs to lose at least 20/pds. I don’t know what else to do for him to make him lose the weight. Any answers would be a big help.

      • Some dogs just cant walk enough to burn all of that extra food you feed them. Cut what you are feeding him in half. If he is loosing weight dramatically add food by the 1/4 cup. Measure ever thing he eats.

      • In addition to the dry food,we feed an extra helping of green beans, low in calorie and tasty. the gang thinks they are delicious.

      • Make sure your dog has had his thyroid levels checked, a dog that is hypothyroid or low normal with their free T4 level will tend to gain weight. I would not feed my dogs a “light” or “diet” food to lose weight. I had a dog that had to loose about 20 lbs and what I did was cut back her regular high protein food. If your dog eats really fast, you can soak the kibble with water that way the bowl is much fuller than if the kibble is dry and the dog does have a full stomach after eating. Replace food with fun. Instead of indulging your dog with food in a bowl, take some of his dry food and use it as treats to reward him for learning new tricks. Dogs are programmed by nature to stuff themselves, that does not have much to do with being hungry in most dogs. I had a labmix that got into a food bag and he had eaten so much that afternoon he looked twice as wide as he normally was, guess what, 2 hours after I came home and closed the door so he couldn’t eat any more, he was already wanting more food. If your dog is overweight he is at high risk for knee injuries and to develop arthritis. You can prevent such very painful conditions by cutting back on his food. You can do it, do it because you love him.

    • My Chocolate Lab was 25 pounds overweight = grossly obese. I cut her daily meal intake in half, changed her dry food to grain free organic and I also make a “wet” food mix for their breakfast. This wet food contains all organic veggies: carrots, green beans, spinach and organic shredded chicken. I use salmon some times as well. I add flax seed and brown rice, throw it all in the crock pot, cooks overnight. My dogs eat 2x a day-morning & night. They get 3/4 cup of dry & 1/2 cup of wet in the morning and then just 3/4 cup of dry at night. Never have an issue of them not eating anything I give them. I actually have 3 large dogs: 38, 53 & 58 pounds, all of which have lost weight and are “prime examples” of what dog weights should be, according to my vet. My lab is now a healthy 58 pounds (she’s a smaller lab). Her fur is shinny and she has never been happier! Watch out for dry foods that have corn or any kind of additives that are not natural as well. Petsmart & Petco have good selections on the all natural, organic, grain free dry foods. You may have to pay more, but isn’t your baby worth it? :) Good luck!

      • Just want to tell you, Kristan, that your email is a real inspiration and I am trying to do the same with Gandalf, my fabulous East German Shepherd … I had his weight down to perfect but when I started to add raw turkey, cod liver oil, and a vitamin from NU VET along with his Hills ultra zd allergen free diet, he puffed out again … I see that he would like to eat more and more and more … so I am going to try harder to implement what you have done so well. God bless you! THANKYOU! Theresa and Gandalf in Brooklyn, NY

      • Agreed: no fillers, corn, etc. We have labs and suffered weight issues. Changed to Premium Edge brand and added green beans (salt free) for weight loss and 95 lab dropped 17 pounds and it took one year. Vet said to slow down expectations and we did. Snacks became organic apples and carrots. They are now on Premium Edge maintenance and have done well for over a year. And we do exercise, sometimes long runs and sometimes short walks but every day, something, switching it around to avoid boredom and muscle memory.

        • And one more item not related to weight loss but to health: Missing Link Plus. Amazing what it did for our labs. In addition to a healthy weight and exercise along with good quality food, this little gem is a must. have been using it for years and all of our labs live to be old and healthy . . .well into their mid-teens.
          It is expensive but look for a wholesale dealer, such as Countryside Pet, and the price drops dramatically. Remember to keep the product refrigerated

      • Grainless foods are not aleays the best way to go. Remember to maintain weight they need some grain. Ground corn is ok, watch the wheat. How do you know your dog is overweight? Remember that most vets don’t know breed specific weights and they want all their dogs thin…. the best way to judge weight. If you are looking at them sideways, can you see their ribs? if yes then feed more food. If you cant see ribs but can easily find the ribs by feel and the butt feels a bit bony then feed more food. If you can lightly feel the ribs, back bone and the butt feels firm then they are where they should be. If you can not feel their ribs at all they need less food, more exercise. You can try lower protein.

    • Hello, I have a pure breed Golden and at age of 6 he was 170 lbs(YES) and now at age of 8 he is 127 lbs.
      My vet recommended ROYAL CANINE SATIETY DIET FOOD and indeed it worked for him. I followed the weight charts on the bag and added some boulion in the food for flavor.
      This food is great, filled him up, coat is beautiful , and if he is hungry you can still give him some extra without the weight concerns.
      It is worth a try and it took time as you see . Will see results within 6 months and hang in there.

    • Have your goldie checked for hypothyroidism. It does run in the breed two of my three have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and had/have pills to keep it under control. The pills, reduced calorie dog kibble, few treats, and some exercise have helped to keep my present goldies weight down. He will never weigh the 75-80 pounds a male should weigh because he is longer and taller with a larger bone density than many goldies. He weigh 98 pounds…down from 117. He has been holding the weight pretty steadily now. I’m just happy he is under 100 so I don’t have to purchase the extra heartworm pill for being over 100 pounds!

    • I have had that problem with my mini and giant schnauzers.
      They are known for their picky eating habits. My female did the same exact thing. I went to the frozen french cut style green beans and thawed them out a bag at a time. With the female I cut them in 1/4 after thawing and mixed them up real good in the other food. That worked well. Good luck Jan

  2. If your problem is time constraints preventing your longer walks try walking her with a bike. I walk my doberman while riding my bike, it takes a few times to get used to it, and I don’t go too fast, no more then ten miles an hour, but that is a good trot for him. Three and a half to four miles takes about a half an hour. There is a product called the walky-dog that attaches to the bike to keep the dog by the back wheel so they don’t cross in front and cause an accident, I don’t use it but it has extremly positive reviews. Walking the dog with the bike I take special care to check his pads regularly since the road is more harsh than sidewalks and I condition them once a weeks with Musher’s Secret paw wax. If you’re concerned about getting your dog more exercise a bike really helps when there isn’t a lot of time. Good Luck!

    • I have wondered about walking the dog while riding a bike. I have been hesitant to try it because I am afraid he will pull me as he tries to sniff something or go after something he sees. Is is an excellent walker…never pulls me…but I allow him to stop and “smell the roses” so to speak and leave his message. I guess that if you are riding a bike, he is going to be going at a lively pace that he won’t be able to pull you over on the bike. How do you get the dog used to walking/trotting next to the bike?

  3. My female golden had gotten pretty chunky by the time the vet bugged me about it – her waistline had disappeared! I tried several diet foods before settling on Wellness Healthy Weight. She seems satisfied with it and best of all has lost 14 pounds and is in great shape for a 7 yr old spayed female.

    • I tried my goldie on the wellness healthy weight (or whatever the name) and while he liked the food a lot, he gained 6 pounds on it and had a lot of gas. I had to switch him to Natural Balance reduced calorie. Trey is hypothyroid and takes pills to control the thyroid. His high weight was 117 pounds. He was put on prescription diet food through the vet and spent over a year eating that food to get his weight down to 90. We almost made it to the 90 pounds but I lost my job and could no longer afford the price of the food at $60 a month. The vet told me to keep him on a food that had about the same caloric content as the RX food. Well, Hills maintenance weight…wasn’t a lot cheaper and he was having literally, 6-7 large stools each day. I did not like that and he wasn’t too thrilled with the food either. SO, I tried the Wellness…he seemed to like the food but was always hungry and passed a whole lot of gas. So, I switched him over to Natural Balance reduced calorie which has 294 calories per cup. He gets just about day, passes less and smaller stools, and no longer has gas. He isn’t necessarily fond of the food but cleans his dish almost daily. It isn’t the cheapest food either, but I have found a store that sells it for about $6 less then the pet store where I was buying it. Now that warmer weather has returned, we will be taking more walks, especially at the metropark, and getting outside for some more real playtime. I am hoping to get his weight back closer to 90 pounds. But, he is longer and taller and is bigger boned then most goldens so I suspect the 90 – 100 pound range is where he will be. He looked really good at 94 pounds and not too bad at 98. At 117…he looked fat. I want him down to protect his hips. Never diagnosed with hip dysplasa but I think his right hip is weak so would not be surprised.

  4. I have a black lab who has some inflammed cartilage in his elbow. The vet has ordered that he rest and not do any exercise. He is a little chubby and very hyper. I am trying to get his weight down but it is hard since he can not exercise. I have tried cutting his food intake down but he seems to always be hungry! Any suggestions?

  5. Pingback: Making the Best Diet for your Dog | Paws Kennels Blog

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