How can you tell if your dog is overweight? How do I know if my dog is the right weight?
Body condition scoring is a simple and visual way of determining if your dog is overweight. To body condition score a pet, we recommend looking at them first from above and looking for a slight waist, and then from the side observing an abdominal tuck and no extra fat covering over the neck and shoulders.
When lightly running your hands over their rib cage you should be able to feel their ribs with light pressure.
If you cannot feel your dog’s ribs without pressing, they have a large fat covering on the neck and no waistline, your pet is likely overweight.
What’s the best thing to do if your dog is overweight? Should I take my dog to the vet if they’re overweight?
If your dog is overweight and you aren’t sure where to start, chat with your vet about what their ideal weight should be and to assess their body condition.
Your vet may then recommend a weight loss diet and create a plan for your dog; this will ensure your pet is getting the right nutrition without the excess calories.
Common signs and symptoms of an overweight dog?
An overweight dog may experience joint pain, tiredness and quick to become exhausted, difficulty in rising/walking/running/jumping, increased respiratory effort and/or difficulty breathing and may be unable to go for longer walks.
What are the health risks of an overweight dog?
Obesity is linked to more than 20 diseases. Some examples include:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Arthritis and spinal problems
- Liver disease
- Heart and respiratory conditions such as tracheal collapse or laryngeal paralysis
- Urinary disease – increased risk of stones and infections
- Shortened lifespan
How to develop a weight loss plan for your dog?
Depending on where you are starting, we recommend seeking the opinion of a professional so that you are gradually decreasing food intake from the current amount to their ideal weight.
As this can sometimes be a big difference, this should be done gradually over a period of 4 weeks.
Healthy weight loss should not exceed 1% of their body weight per week. It is also important to take into consideration the snacks and treats your pet is getting – consider healthy swaps like fresh vegetables like courgette or string beans that are low-calorie.
If your pet is not losing weight after adjusting their food intake and reducing treats, you’ll need to decrease food intake even further, and seek the assistance of a veterinarian.
How to ease your dog into working out?
- Start by adding one extra walk per week – it doesn’t need to be long. Short walks (15-30mins) can be just as effective as one long walk
- Encourage active play – throwing a ball or playing your pet’s favourite game more frequently
- Scatter or hide food and use enrichment toys – this gets your pet moving and keeps them interested in food without the focus being on how many meals they are getting