Do you know if your dog is overweight? Many of today’s dogs are overweight or obese. When determining if your dog is overweight take into account your dogs breed, age, and size. Most veterinarians use a 9-point scoring system to evaluate the body condition of your dog. A 1 means your dog is grossly underweight while a score of a 9 shows your dog is extremely overweight. The ideal score is a 5, which is just right. First you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs easily. The ideal dog will have a thin layer of fat over the ribs. However, each rib should be distinct. Dogs with protruding bones and muscle loss are too thin. If you cannot feel your dog’s ribs at all, then your dog is very overweight. Second, check the area around the base of the tail. Once again, there should be a thin layer of fat over this area, and it should feel smooth. Third, feel other bony areas such as the spine, shoulders and hips. Each of these areas should have a thin layer of fat. However, when running your hand over the area you should be able to feel the bones beneath the layer of fat. If these bones are easily felt or visible your dog is too thin. Fourth, take a look at your dog from above. The waist and tuck up (belly area between the ribcage and rear end) are discernible without being prominent. If the waist is extreme or worse there is no waist area your dog is grossly overweight. Fifth, look at your pet from the side. Dogs should have an abdominal tuck (area behind the ribs should be smaller in diameter than the chest.) This area varies a lot depending on your breed of a dog. A very deep chested dog will have a very pronounced abdominal tuck. A very thin dog will have an extreme abdominal tuck while an overweight dog will have no abdominal tuck. Other symptoms that indicate an overweight dog include: less stamina, having a hard time jumping up on furniture or climbing stairs, and a decreased interest in physical activity. Please take a look at the chart below to help to gauge if your dog is overweight.
If you think your dog could be overweight, consult with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you determine if there are any medical problems before you start your dog on a weight loss program.