You could be the most devoted part parent on the planet, but your dog may still pile on the pounds. Let’s be clear by saying that this isn’t your fault: after all, many breeds like Labradors have an inability to feel full due to changes in their POMC gene which results in their insatiable appetite.
In no way should you feel embarrassed about the fact your dog may be overweight: consulting this article is proof that you take the health of your pooch incredibly seriously. However, several steps will need to be taken so your dog’s tubbiness won’t worsen any existing health problems they may have, deteriorate their bones and joints, or lead to heart problems and high blood pressure in the future. Therefore, we’ve put together an exhaustive list of ways to tell if your dog is overweight, and what you can do to help them. Find out more about dog joint supplements and heartworm medicine for dogs here.
So, is My Dog Actually Overweight?
As the most common nutritional disorder, dog obesity is widespread in the USA. Shockingly enough, over 50% of American dogs are overweight, according to PETMD – and this epidemic shows no signs of slowing down. Another horrifying statistic from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention is that a whopping 90% of pet owners believed that their dog was in the normal weight range category before finding out that they were, in fact, obese. If you’re keen to be in the 10%, the following behaviors are evidence that your dog may be overweight.
You can’t feel your dog’s ribs
Although a healthy dog’s ribs aren’t necessarily visible, you should be able to feel them easily. When petting your dog, run your hand over their body. If a layer of fat is preventing you from feeling their ribcage, this is a clear indication that your pooch needs to lose some weight.
You’re unsure where your dog’s stomach begins and their chest ends
A healthy dog boasts a broad chest and should have a tuck-up from their chest to their stomach. This ridge between a dog’s chest and their stomach is most noticeable when giving your pup belly rubs. If your dog has the body contours of a barrel, it’s more than likely that they’re overweight.
Check out our guide on Dog Foods for Sensitive Stomachs.
They’re less energetic than they used to be
We aren’t referring to one off-day on which your dog decides to meander on slowly rather than erratically chase down squirrels on their walk. Rather, if your dog often lags behind on their walks and has taken to panting in comparison to their energetic old self who loved to run, this may be their excessive weight getting the better of them.
It appears as though your dog never stops napping
Like all young puppies, it’s perfectly normal – recommended even – for these mischievous balls of fluff to be sleeping for an average of sixteen hours per day. In comparison, senior and adult dogs clock in an average amount of thirteen hours per day. Therefore, it’s perfectly common for it to feel as though your dog sleeps for hours on end. However, if your adult dog is exceeding their average twelve-hour sleeping time, this is when there may be cause for concern.
Your pup doesn’t want to do anything
Another indicator that your dog is overweight is if, during their waking hours, they appear to be disconnected from others as well as apathetic. Healthy dogs are on their owners’ toes as soon as they get home from work and demand attention, walks, and playtime. Now, if you’re suspicious that your dog is pretending you didn’t utter the word “walkies” whereas before they would’ve been bursting with excitement, this is indicative of weight gain. Carrying around excess weight is indeed exhausting for your pup and they won’t want to travel any further than they must.
Housework is now a lonely affair
One of the joys of having a dog around the house is that you’re never alone. When carrying out mundane chores like the washing, your dog was like your shadow. For the most part, you’d turn around to find your inquisitive pup sitting in the exact place you’re trying to access, whether that’s in front of the food cupboard or in front of the stove. These days, on the other hand, housework is a lonely affair. Unlike before, your dog won’t want to leave the couch to see where you’re heading off to. If your dog is indeed overweight, the most telling instance is if they stop at the bottom of the stairs, knowing full well that reaching this higher floor would require stamina that they no longer possess.
They weigh more than usual
If you can remember your dog’s weight from their last vet visit off the top of your head, popping them on the bathroom skills will allow you to tell if they’re overweight. Although you must consider several factors such as your dog’s age, breed, and height, to correctly calculate if your dog is overweight or not, there are many charts online that will allow you to find their optimal body weight. If your pup is 5 to 19% heavier than their ideal weight, they’re carrying excessive weight. A figure exceeding 20%, however, is when drastic action must be taken.
This being said, don’t panic if you place your pup on the scales to find that, much to your dismay, they’ve incredibly overweight. Especially with larger dogs, measuring your dog at home can be an extremely difficult affair and inaccurate affair. Taking your dog to the vet is always recommended for obtaining the most accurate weight possible. When at the vets, why not discuss how to tackle your dog’s weight loss program? Given that over half of America’s dogs are overweight, your vet will be an expert in this subject and will most certainly offer helpful advice concerning how to help your overweight pup shed a few pounds.
You may also like our article on the Best Pet Scales.
How to Help Your Dog Shed Some Pounds
If you can tick off several of the above symptoms of weight gain, then it’s evident that your dog is overweight. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Now that you know your pup is overweight, you can take steps to deal with their weight gain.
Use “body conditioning”
A technique practiced by vets themselves, body conditioning is when one looks at a dog from above and from the side to assess how healthy the shape of their body is. As elucidated above, a healthy dog should have a ridge between their chest and stomach. Similarly, they should boast a lean neck and face. It’s therefore important that once your dog is back to their normal, healthy body shape, you should set aside time to partake in “body conditioning”. This way, it will become easier to detect whether your dog is in danger of becoming overweight again.
Switch their kibble
Often, unhealthy kibble is to blame for an overweight dog. Recommended dog food kibble contains 5% minimum of crude fat and around 22% crude protein. Likewise, there are plenty of other factors to consider like the number of unhealthy by-products and protein substitutes in dog food that are often responsible for weight gain.
Accordingly, it may be time for your pudgy pup to switch their type of kibble to one containing high-quality ingredients and low fat. Thankfully, low-fat kibbles are all the range and offer a variety of unique protein sources that reduce the likelihood of allergies. To point you in the right direction, we’ve written a handy guide including the best dog food for weight loss in the 2020 marketplace.
Get your dog exercising again
As your dog may have given up with walking, it’s important to gradually increase their step count per day. After a while, you’ll notice that they’re starting to keep up with your pace. A healthy dog should be out walking for an hour and a half to two hours per day, so it’s important that you don’t miss out on taking them out; whatever the weather may be.
Treats should be regulated
It may be that you and your family members haven’t been communicating about how many treats they’re rewarding the family dog with a day. Why not have a meeting to discover how many treats your dog has been cajoling your family members into feeding them. Together, you’ll be able to combat your dog’s weight gain efficiently.
We truly hope this article hasn’t been too disheartening. Although it’s always tough finding out that your dog is indeed overweight, the weight loss process is filled with opportunities to bond with your dog. And we know you’ll make the most of every one of them!
- Amanda Baltazar, Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM, How Can You Tell If Your Pet Is Overweight? – PetMD
- Deborah E. Linder, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Nutrition), How Do I Know If My Pet Is Overweight? – Cummings Veterinary Medical Center
- Katie Finlay, How to Tell if You Have an Overweight Dog– Hill’s Pet Nutrition
- Kate Horowitz, Science Explains Why Your Lab Is Always Hungry – Mental Floss