Canine obesity is a growing epidemic and it is just as dangerous as obesity in humans. If a human is overweight, they can make changes to their lifestyle to quickly shed a few pounds. Unfortunately, it is up to us to manage the weight of our pets. That means if your dog is overweight or obese, you’re the only one that can help him. The longer you wait, the more severe the health effects will be. Obesity could ultimately take years off your dog’s life.
This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Chessie Green, owner and working veterinarian at Falls Village Veterinary Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina about this topic. As a vet, she has seen first hand how quickly the pet obesity epidemic is growing. For some dogs, it’s the diet they are fed- others don’t get enough exercise.
Medical conditions, like thyroid problems, can cause weight gain or loss as well. No matter what caused your dog’s condition, it’s imperative that you act quickly to help him shed the extra pounds. A trip to your vet to discuss a weight management plan should be your first step.
Interview: The Risks of Canine Obesity and How To Keep Your Dog Fit
How to tell if your dog is overweight
When discussing pet obesity, the first thing you need to know is how to tell if your dog is overweight. Dr. Green says the easiest way to tell is by feeling your dog’s ribs. You should be able to easily feel you pet’s rib bones without having to push through a layer of fat.
Video: Dr Victor Dolan Explains How To Keep Your Dog Healthy
You should only be able to feel your dog’s ribs – not see them. If you can clearly see his rib bones, it may be a sign that he is underweight, which can be just as serious as being overweight.
You can also tell by your dog’s appearance. If you look down at your dog from directly above, you should be able to see a little bit of an hourglass waist. You’ll notice slight indentations between your dog’s hip bones and his rib cage. If you don’t see any indentation at all, it’s a good sign that your dog is overweight.
Video: Regular Vet Visits Keep Your Dog Healthy
You also want to be sure your dog doesn’t have a big belly. Older pets tend to have a little bit of a bigger belly, but in general there should be a slight curve from the chest to the flank area. If you’re looking at your dog from a profile view, you should notice that his belly is lower near his chest and rises slightly up to the flank area.
If your dog is very fluffy, Dr. Green recommends looking at his profile stance while he’s in the bathtub. The water will weigh down his fur, making it easier to see if there is a curve or not.
These tips can be used for all dog breeds, and cats too! It’s actually better to use these visual ques than it is to use specific weight guidelines. Although you can find an average weight for most breeds, every dog’s body is different and canines come in so many different varieties. For this reason, every dog has his own ideal weight.