Saturday, April 16, 2016

Your Dog Is Overweight: Recognizing Obesity In Dogs

Yes, your dog is overweight.  How do I know?  OK, I really don't.  However, I have found far too many people who really don't have a clue what an overweight dog looks like.

On more than one occasion, people have looked at my dog and offered comments like, "Looks a little thin", "Too skinny", or "a little anemic".  For those of you who have yet to meet Shiloh, let me describe him.  Because of genetics (and nothing to do with me), he is trim, athletic and well muscled.  Every description I've read has him at an ideal weight.

Another story: Went to a friend's house to help him remodel. I was greeted by his pups, who I hadn't see in a while.  Each dog was slightly overweight and I told the owner as much.  Slightly offended, the reply was that they had just come from the vet and given a clean bill of health.

By VinnieRattolle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
This Dog Is Overweight
 One more: A good friend took one of her dogs to the vet.  She knew that the dog needed to lose a bit of weight.  when the vet proclaimed that the dog's weight was just fine, my friend called out the vet.  Here was the answer: 
"Well, yes, your dog could stand to lose a bit.  But honestly, people take such offense when I tell them that their dog weighs too much that anymore, if the weight problem is not too drastic, I just let it slide."
CC BY 2.0,
This Is A Healthy Weight Dog

Our dogs lives are too short.  The list of complications for our dogs from being overweight is well known (see here)  .  But the first step for a better (and possibly longer) life for your dog is to understand what a healthy weight looks like.

1. A dog should have a waist

When you look at your dog from above, there should be an hourglass figure.  Broad in the rib cage, broad in the hips, but narrower between.  If it is a straight line, your dog is overweight.

Also, when looking at the dog from the side, there should be abdominal tuck.  In other words, the should not hang down, but should be up tight into the dog.  The lower the belly is hanging, the fatter the dog.

In short, the dog's waist ought to be tiny.  If thick when viewed from above or from the side, your dog is overweight.

2. Ribs should be felt, not seen

If you can't feel the ribs without having to press and dig for them, then your dog is overweight. 

Check this out for some pictures.

Look, I'm not trying to guilt you into anything.  But you might not have all the info.  Push the topic with your vet.  Don't ask if my dog is overweight.  Ask if your dog is an an ideal weight and you might find a different answer.

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  1. Thank you for this post. Obesity in pets is a huge problem. My vet will always go on about how great my dog's body condition is as if seeing a healthy dog is a rarity..and I believe it might be. In addition it is a sad day indeed when a vet no longer does their job because they are tired of offending or do not want to offend the clients. Their job is to do what is best for the pet and if that means an owner gets pissy, so be it. At least they have informed and that is part of the job.

    1. I maintain hope that most vets will tell the truth regarding the ideal weight of a dog. I hope that the examples above are the exception rather than the rule.

  2. The dog should have a waist. Yep! A good gauge. On top of that, their master should have one too because that is the measure for excess weight in humans as well! :-)....same for the ribs :-)