Is Your Dog Overweight? Here’s What You Need to Know

The numbers on dog
obesity
are startling: In 2018, a survey from the Association
for Pet Obesity Prevention found approximately 56% of dogs in the
United States were overweight or obese. After reading that stat,
you may look at your pup and wonder, “is my dog
overweight?”

Sometimes a pudgy pup is cute. Unfortunately, excess pounds
puts your dog at risk for health problems. It is important to
maintain a healthy weight for the entirety of your dog’s life.
This is how to determine if your dog is overweight and what to do
about it if the answer is yes.

pudgy pup

Is your dog overweight?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to your dog’s weight.
Different breeds have different weight standards and silhouettes.
However, you can use a body mass index
(BMI) calculator
to determine if your pup is at an unhealthy
weight.

VCA Animal
Hospitals
define obesity this way, “Dogs are considered to be
overweight when they weigh 10-20% above their ideal body weight.
They are considered obese when they weigh 20% or more above their
ideal body weight.”

This chart from the American Kennel Club (AKC) shares the
typical weight by
breed
. The AKC data provides a starting point for thinking
about your dog’s weight.

However, the number on the scale isn’t the only factor to
consider. Rib coverage is one way to measure if your dog is
overweight. Follow these steps from VCA, “If you hold your hand
palm down and feel your knuckles with the flats of the fingers on
the opposite hand, this is how your dog’s ribs should feel just
behind the shoulder blades. It is also a good method for measuring
weight loss progress between formal weigh-ins.”

What dogs are at most
risk?

Spayed or neutered dogs may have a greater risk of gaining
weight because of the change in metabolism and loss of
hormones.

However, some breeds are predisposed to obesity. According to
the OPET:
Owners and Pets Exercising Together
 study, these pups are more
likely to be overweight:

  • Cairn Terriers
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Basset Hounds
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Beagles
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Labrador Retrievers

On the other hand, the survey found some breeds, like
sighthounds, appear to be resistant to obesity. Just like
people…there’s always that one person who can eat anything and
never gain a pound. Ugh!

three dog head tilt What are the health risks?

Even a small amount of extra weight can be quite harmful to your
pup.
VCA
warns, “As few as five pounds above the ideal body weight
can put your dog at risk for developing some serious medical
conditions.” Once your pup is overweight or obese, it is almost
guaranteed they will develop secondary conditions.

Some of the diseases caused by obesity include:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoarthritis (arthritis)
  • Increased frequency of joint injuries
  • High blood pressure
  • Some forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal
    cancers
  • Shorter life span
  • Respiratory issues
  • Urinary bladder stones

However, sometimes obesity indicates other diseases. For
example, an overweight dog may indicate hypothyroidism (an
underactive thyroid gland) or
Cushing’s disease
(overactive adrenal glands).

What can you do?

Dogs gain weight the same way humans do, eating too much and
exercising too little. Make some adjustments to your pup’s
lifestyle to help them shed extra pounds.

Diet
First, talk to your veterinarian if you
decide to start a new diet for your pup. Then, think about what you
are feeding your dog. Do you give him table scraps at every meal?
Do you feed him his daily meals and many treats during the day? Cut
down the “human” food you share with your pup. Count how many
treats you give him in a day. Reduce your pup’s daily calorie
intake by decreasing treats.

The American Kennel Club suggests replacing your dog’s second
meal of the day with a mixture of low-sodium green beans, some
kibble, and a doggie multi-vitamin. Reminder: do not make these
types of changes to your pup’s diet without consulting a vet.

Don’t just reduce the amount of food your dog is eating. Feed
your pup a product that has lower overall calorie density, while
still maintaining a nutrient balance. Talk to your vet about the
right food for your dog. Once you’ve selected a new food, make
sure you are consistent. No cheat days for your dog!

There are even foods specially made to help your dog lose
weight. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: always talk
to your vet first for recommendations and help developing a
plan.

Exercise
There are lots of ways to get your
pup moving. You can get
fit together
. If you don’t have the time to work out with
your pup, let them exercise
indoors
. Send your pooch to doggy daycare to interact and play
with other dogs.

Go for a run
 Yes, running is a type of
exercise, but it is important to remember that not all dogs are
able to run long distances. Think about your pup’s age. Puppies
and young dogs can damage their joints by running on hard
surfaces like concrete or asphalt.

Protect your pup

Puppy dog eyes are hard to ignore. Don’t always indulge a
pooch begging for table scraps or an extra treat. It’s extremely
important to be vigilant about your dog’s weight because obesity
can cause serious health problems.

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Is Your Dog Overweight? Here’s What You Need to Know
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Source: FS – Dogs – iHD
Is Your Dog Overweight? Here’s What You Need to Know