NOW READING: How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

How can I tell if my dog is overweight?


A weighty issue

Did you know that around 40% of Australian dogs are considered above their ideal weight? 

Pet obesity is a serious issue, and globally it's on the rise.  As with humans, overweight pets are at an increased risk of serious health consequences, which may be life threatening.  In addition, obesity may exacerbate existing medical conditions in pets.

Overweight pets have a reduced quality of life and are more likely to be disinterested in exercise and play.  They tire quickly when they do exercise and might appear to walk with a waddle. 

Reduced lifespan

Overweight pets live shorter lives. 

A study published in 2018, examined Banfield Pet Hospital™ data from over 50,787 pet dogs across 12 of the most popular breeds.  The results showed that the lifespan of overweight dogs was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to dogs with a healthy body condition.  So it’s not just quality of life that is affected in overweight pets, it’s quantity too. 

Body condition scores

You can learn to assess the body condition of your dog and this also helps let you know if you're feeding them the right amount of food.

Take a look at your dog from both a side-on, as well as an aerial view (ie from above looking down) and check:

• Can you see and feel your dog's ribs, as well as the bones along their spine and over their hips?

• When looking down on your dog, can you see an obvious ‘waist’?

• Look at the area behind the ribs.  Can you see a tuck of the abdomen? 

A dog in ideal body condition has:

• Ribs which can be felt without excess fat covering them. 

• A ‘waist’ which can be seen behind the ribs when viewed from above

• The abdomen is tucked up when viewed from the side.

Once a pet is overweight, it becomes more difficult to feel their ribs due to a padding of excess fat.  Their ‘waist’ becomes less obvious and their abdominal tuck decreases. 

All packets of ADVANCE™ dog food display a 5-point body condition scoring chart that you can use to help assess your dog's body condition.

On a 5-point body condition scoring chart, a score of 3 is considered ideal.  A score of 1 or 2 indicates that the dog is underweight, while a score of 4 or 5 indicates that the dog is overweight.

Getting back into shape

Overweight pets need a tailored diet and exercise plan, and this is best managed under supervision by your Veterinarian.  Feeding a lower calorie or ‘light’ diet can be helpful, as they provide less calories per meal.  In addition, a tailored exercise program that is appropriate for the dog helps burn calories and build muscle.