Is Your Dog at a Healthy Weight?

Proper nutrition is key to helping your pet live a long and happy life. Take the guess work out of evaluating your dog’s weight by using these quick and simple tests.

1.     Evaluate your dog from the side.

Your dog’s stomach should tuck up from the chest. The stomach should not be level with or hang below the dog’s chest. If your dog’s ribs are easily visible, he or she is probably underweight. There are some exceptions – including Greyhounds, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds. These dog’s ribs show even at a normal weight.

Breeds that have thick, fluffy coats need to be examined more closely.  On dogs with heavy coats, you probably cannot see ribs even if the dog is underweight. Try the next two steps for a more complete assessment.

2.     Look at your dog from above.

If your dog’s shape is overly round, they could be overweight. As you stand over the dog, look down. The dog should have a visibly tucked-in waist, but the hipbones should not protrude too much. If the dog’s hip bones project sharply, he or she could be underweight. If your dog has a nice curve inward at the waist, it is probably at an acceptable weight.

3.     Feel for your dog’s ribs.

Actually feeling the dog is especially important in heavily coated dogs, whose fur can often mask potential weight issues. If you cannot feel the rib cage at all, the dog it most likely overweight.

If you can feel the ribs but they feel as if they have a light padding like a thin blanket over them, your dog sounds like it is at the right weight. If the ribs are apparent and feel as if they are covered with only a thin layer of skin, your dog may be underweight.

Obesity can cause severe health problems in pets of any age. Carrying extra weight puts stress on bones and joints, burdens the heart and other internal organs and compresses the lungs.  Extra weight can change a simple walk around the block into a major ordeal. In fact, overweight dogs suffer from many of the same risks and ailments as overweight humans.

Malnourished dogs don’t have it any better. Lacking crucial nutrients can lead to serious problems too. Signs of malnourishment include a distended stomach, bleeding gums, and a sunken body with ribs that are clearly visible.

Home tests and remedies are not a substitute for regular veterinary care. If you need additional help with your pet’s weight, you should seek professional veterinary advice. Adjusting your dogs diet and/or exercise routine may be the answer. There may also be underlying medical issues that need to be ruled out before a conclusion can be made. You may also consider Canine Physical Rehabilitation for weight loss, which is offered at Animal Emergency and Critical Care Center of Brevard.

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We proudly serve those in Central Florida including:

  • Melbourne
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  • and all other surrounding areas

Photo Courtesy of Nestle Purina PetCare Co.

Author: Jessica Reeves