How do you know if you’ve got an overweight dog? Does it really matter if your dog is a little bigger in the middle than she used to be? The truth is that keeping your dog at her ideal weight can add actual years on to her life. A 14-year study by Purina found that dogs fed to their ideal body condition lived 1.8 years longer, on average, than overweight dogs. (That’s 12.6 dog years if you’re struggling with the math.)
Does My Dog Really Need to Lose Weight?
If your dog is overweight, this can threaten to shorten her lifespan, and it can degrade the quality of her life as well. An overweight dog has a higher risk of the following health conditions than a dog at her ideal weight. Read: “10 Tips to Fight Dog Obesity.”
- Kidney disease
- Decreased liver function
- Heart disease
- Collapsing trachea
- Skin infections
- ACL tears
What’s Your Dog’s Ideal Weight?
It’s probably not a news flash to you that an overweight dog isn’t a great idea, but it’s that “ideal weight” part that can get tricky. So how do you determine your dog’s ideal weight? Tables that tell you if your dog is overweight can be a helpful starting point, but they often have too big of a range to give you great information.
The key is to forget about a number on a scale and use a couple of simple assessments to determine the ideal for your particular dog. (In fact, this is how most vets assess weight, too.) Basically, you just have to look and feel to figure it out. No math necessary. Phew.
Standing over your dog, you should be able to see a natural curve between ribs and hips, defining an obvious waistline. From the side, you should see another natural upward curve from the ribs to the hips. If these curves are too dramatic, it indicates your dog is too lean; if there is no curve into a natural waistline, your dog is too heavy.
Check out this visual breakdown.
Another way to tell it is by touch. Feel: move your fingers over your dog’s ribs. You should be able to feel each rib with a little layer of fat over them. If your dog’s individual ribs are obvious by sight without any touching, your dog is too lean; if it’s hard to even determine your dog has ribs at all because of fat, your dog is too heavy.
Think your dog might be overweight? Not to worry! With some dietary improvements she should be back in fighting shape in no time. For some inspiration, check out how Ollie dog food helped this rescue dog lose weight and get fit again.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.