How to Know if My Dog is Fat

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. November 9, 2017
How to Know if My Dog is Fat

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If your dog is overweight, it can lead to canine obesity. Just like humans, if a dog is overweight it can lead to health complications which can not only cause pain in your pooch, but also shorten its life expectancy. These complications include joint problems and diabetes. While it a fat dog may look like it is as happy as any other, it is likely to be in considerable pain and it will not have the quality of life many other dogs enjoy. There are different reasons your dog may be fat, but often it is from overfeeding or from feeding the wrong type of food. Here AnimalWised will show you how to know if your dog is fat and what you can do to help them lose weight and become a healthier, happier dog.

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Evaluate your dog's weight

Your dog being overweight is a pre-condition to canine obesity. Obesity is generally believed to be when your dog is 20% heavier than its ideal body weight[1]. It is a 'multifactoral condition', meaning that it doesn't necessarily come from the one source, such as overfeeding. Often it has its roots in an undiagnosed metabolic conditions, but lack of exercise and overfeeding are of course major factors.

Unfortunately, while we need to be loving towards our dogs, sometimes we confuse this with treating them. Whether it's due to giving them rewards for training or simply feeding them scraps under the table, we can often give them too much food because we see how happy it makes them. This is not good for their weight, but it's also not great for their behavior in general as it can make them ill disciplined.

If we are worried our dog might be putting on too much weight, there are some signs we should look out for.

The signs of an overweight dog:

  • The base of the tail has thickened and there is a moderate amount of tissue between the skin and the tail bone.
  • The ribs are hidden under a layer of fat which is difficult to feel. You should be able to feel your dog's ribs easily as they should only have a thin layer of fat between skin and bone.
  • When you look at your dog from behind as it sits, you should be able to see its waist. If you can't it is likely too fat.
  • While looking at your dog from the side you should see that the curve of its belly goes upwards from chest to hide legs. If it is level or does not move upwards, it is overweight.

While you should be able to feel your dogs ribs and see a curve in their belly, if this curve is too steep and there is practically no fat, it means your dog is probably underweight.

How to Know if My Dog is Fat - Evaluate your dog's weight

Evaluate obesity in dogs

Your dog may be a little overweight and needs to reduce food intake and exercise. However, if your dog is severely overweight, it means it is obese. This is a serious condition in your dog and can be worrying.

Signs your dog is obese:

  • The ribs are not visible to the naked eye and are difficult to feel under the layer of fat.
  • The tail is thick, but has a significant amount of fat around the base.
  • The dog has no waist when viewed in a sitting position and you see bulges of fat at its sides.
  • When viewed from the side, the dog's line from chest to hind legs tapers downwards and there is a visible belly. However, make sure you don't confuse an overweight dog with pregnancy.
How to Know if My Dog is Fat - Evaluate obesity in dogs

How to get your dog to an ideal weight

As we stated before, the best way to reduce your dog's weight is to start a regime of diet and exercise. This doesn't simply mean reducing the amount of food, but it does mean you need to cut out the treats. Dog treats are just that, treats for doing well. They shouldn't be eaten all the time, nor do they need to be high fat or bad for them. You can reward your doing well simply with a piece of their regular food.

However, if your dog is obese, you will need to drastically reduce the number of treats you give them, probably cutting them out altogether. While this is difficult, it will be better for your dog in the long run. You can make it up to them by showing them more love with pets and cuddles.

The type of food you use is very important. Check the labelling on your dog food and use a low-fat, but high protein feed. Grain-free dog foods are used for different types of dogs, but they tend to be higher in fat and should therefore be avoided if you want to help your fat dog. Change your brand and type to the best for losing weight.

The exercise you use for a fat dog is not going to be the same for a healthier dog. They should not be overexerted too soon. If your dog is obese, it will likely be experiencing joint pain and making it exercise too much too soon can be a very painful experience. Walk your dog gently and build up the amount of exercise they get. This can be helped with the use of a treadmill as you are able to set the pace. Swimming pools also provide great exercise for dogs as they will give a full body workout while also reducing the strain on joints.

How to Know if My Dog is Fat - How to get your dog to an ideal weight

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Know if My Dog is Fat, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.


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