Your Dog’s Weight: A Hands On Guide for Pet Parents
Weight greatly affects your pet’s health and wellbeing, so it's important to you keep your pet's weight in check. Below we share tips to help you keep your dog happy and healthy.
How do I determine my dog’s ideal weight?
In adulthood, different dog breeds have a lot of variation in size — just compare a Chihuahua to a Great Dane and you’ll know exactly what we mean! Plus, there’s weight variation between individual pups within each breed, too.
If you're wondering how to know if your dog is a healthy weight, follow this method (used by most veterinarians) to determine a dog’s ideal weight. This system is called the Body Condition Score (BCS).
Here’s how it works:
- Observe your dog from the side and from above. Then gently run your hands over their ribs and their back.
- At an ideal weight, your pet will have a natural waist when viewed from above or from the side. A tummy that sticks out beyond the rib cage could mean your dog is overweight. Also, the ribs don’t stick out when observing your dog (which could mean they’re too thin).
- Additionally, you should be able to feel their ribs when you run your hand over them (if you can’t, a “fat cushion” between the skin and the ribs may be to blame).
You can also search online to determine the average weight range for your pup's breed (if you know what breed they are). Here's one such chart you may find helpful.
It’s always best to confirm your findings with your veterinarian. Then use the BCS to monitor for weight changes.
SEE ALSO: Puppy Growth
What should I do if my adult dog is underweight?
First, it’s important to determine if there’s a medical cause — especially if your dog suddenly lost weight, or if a thin weight is accompanied by symptoms of illness.
For example, a simple parasite treatment may help young dogs gain weight. Or a tooth problem could be causing decreased food intake, and it needs to be addressed by your vet.
If your pup is otherwise healthy but underweight, they may need to increase their food intake or switch to a different type of food. Ask your vet for a recommendation based on your pup’s individual needs.
SEE ALSO: How Can I Tell if my Dog Is Sick?
How can I help my overweight adult dog?
Just like with underweight dogs, it’s important to rule out an underlying medical condition for your overweight dog.
For example, hormonal conditions like decreased thyroid production could cause increased weight gain — and it may be impossible to improve weight without first addressing this issue.
If a medical condition is ruled out, talk to your vet about a plan for food and safe exercise, which may include the following.
- Cut out treats and table scraps (or at least replace them with healthier options — ask your vet about pet-safe veggies).
- You may need to restrict your dog’s food intake. But over-restricting can lead to nutrient deficiencies, so your vet may recommend a dog weight loss food instead (which balances nutrients at a lower calorie density, while also helping to manage hunger).
- Use a puzzle feeder to distribute food slowly while keeping your pet entertained.
- Begin your pup’s exercise plan slowly (a short walk is a fine starting point if that’s all they can do for now) and work your way up to avoid injuries or overexertion.
Because excess weight and obesity can greatly affect your dog's health, it's important to talk to your veterinarian about how you can help them drop the extra pounds and get them back to their ideal body weight.
By learning about your dog’s weight, you’ve taken an important step toward monitoring your dog’s health at home.
Helping your pup maintain a healthy weight is beneficial to their wellbeing, so you can keep your furry friend as healthy as possible for years to come.