Is my dog overweight? How to find out and what to do

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Overweight dogs are a massive issue for many owners. It leads to a bunch of health problems. However, your dog’s overweight doesn’t mean you are a bad pet parent.

by Guest Blogger, Jimmie O Chutt

Overweight dogs are a massive issue for many owners. It leads to a bunch of health problems. However, your dog’s overweight doesn’t mean you are a bad pet parent. None of us are safe from this complication.

Excess weight and obesity can have a destructive effect on your dog’s health. The most common problems are diabetes, arthritis, and joint disorders. However, there are a couple of ways to prevent being overweight. It is beneficial to know what exactly your dog needs to stay healthy and slim. Here are some methods that will be very helpful for your pet.

How a dog becomes overweight

Busy owner = lazy dog. It is often correct because our pace of life leaves no time to play with our pets. This may lead to weight issues. In fact, the lack of activity is the number one reason for this problem. The second one is overfeeding. If they are combined together, it is double trouble. Some breeds are more inclined to gain weight, such as golden retrievers, bulldogs, and cocker spaniels.

Some pet owners think that pretty cheeks are adorable. However, the price your dog pays for it is very high. Extra weight may lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer. It’s no fun, right? Moreover, your pet may face respiratory conditions, behavioral problems, and a reduction of lifespan.

And it is not the full list of problems.

How can you tell if your dog is overweight

If you still have doubts about whether your dog is overweight or not, you should consult your veterinarian. However, there are some things you can notice on your own. It will be very helpful if you check your dog on a regular basis. Pets don’t become overweight at once. It is better to notice some signs beforehand and don’t let things get out of control.

1.   The weight of your dog is higher than usual

That’s an obvious sign. But only at first sight. Many dog owners don’t pay attention to some extra pounds on a scale. They think it’s just a matter of time, and their dog will lose this weight easily. But that’s not how you want to cope with this.

First of all, you need to understand which weight is average for your breed. Get a calculator and do some math. Surf the internet and find a chart describing your dog’s perfect weight. You should take into account the breed, height, and weight of your pet.

If your dog happens to be 5 to 20% heavier than it is supposed to be, that means that he or she is overweight. You should make a small change in diet. If your dog’s weight is more than 120% of the normal weight, then changes in nutrition won’t be enough because your dog has obesity problems. Please consult your vet and develop an individual program of losing weight that will include proper nutrition and physical activity.

2.   You don’t feel the ribs

That’s one of the simplest and most effective tests that work with dogs, cats, and other small pets. Take your dog and run your hands around its flanks and abdomen. If your pet has a healthy weight, you’ll feel all the ribs. However, you should not see them. This would mean that your dog is too skinny.

If you can’t find the ribs, you need to change your dog’s diet and find time for some exercises.

3.   Your dog’s body looks like a tube

Face your dog and look at its shape. The chest must be wider than the waist. In fact, an hourglass shape is the best variant not only for girls but also for your pet. If your dog’s waist is thicker than all other parts of the body, it’s a signal for you to change the diet. Call your vet and consult him/her as soon as possible.

4.   Your dog is not interested in physical activities anymore

Dogs are usually very energetic and friendly animals. They try to involve their owners in their everyday activities as much as possible. They love to catch their tail, run around, and become very enthusiastic every time a human being comes back home.

However, when a dog gains weight, it’s perfect leisure time looks like sleeping on a couch. You may think that your dog became apathetic because it has grown up. That’s not correct. In 90% of cases, the reason is overweight. Heavyweight exhausts your pet. It feels tired all the time. That’s why you don’t go out as often as before. That’s a very significant sign. Call your vet the moment you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior.

5.   Lack of stamina

Let us suppose that your dog still plays outside, tries to catch its tail, and is quite energetic when it sees you. That’s cool. But the keyword is “quite”. You may notice that your four-legged friend cannot do it all as much as before. It still goes outside, but the walk takes 30 minutes instead of 1 hour as before. Then your dog just gets tired and lies on the floor. That’s one of the first signs that your pet has weight issues. For instance, if your pet has an extra 12 pounds, it has to carry them all day long. That’s why it gets exhausted fast.

All these extra pounds are additional pressure on the bones. Moreover, your dog’s heart needs to provide the body with excess blood. It is not healthy at all. Keep an eye on your buddy and notice all the changes in its behavior. Don’t let it gain extra weight.

6.   Your dog is not coming to the second floor

It is also one of the first signs that your dog is not all right. If you started to notice that your pet is not following you when you go upstairs anymore, that can be dangerous. However, this can be just a change in its behavior.

Try to watch your dog for a day or two. Is it still downstairs when you go up? How many attempts does your dog need to jump on the couch? This can be a crucial factor. If it has to make more than 3 attempts to reach the goal, it’s time to call your vet.

What you should do

In this article, we give advance tips. However, we have a separate article with basic ones. This is a developed version. Of course, it would be better to consult your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet. However, there is a list of products you can try right from the start. They are very healthy and won’t do any harm.

1.   Add the weight loss supplements to your dog’s diet

If you want to keep your pet fit, you need to add some supplements to its diet. When combined with an exercise program, these products can help your dog to lose weight very soon. There are some very effective ones to help your pet get slim and healthy.

It may help to ease achy joints and perhaps encourage weight loss. Omega-3 fatty acid supplement affects the mitochondrion. It is a cell that is responsible for generating energy from digested food. This acid has a fat-burning effect that will help your dog to lose weight very fast. However, you should consult your vet to choose the correct proportion. You don’t want your dog to become too skinny, right?

  • L-carnitine

This free-form amino acid promotes lean muscle mass in some studies. It deals with obesity, feline hepatic lipidosis, and behavioral health. One study followed 30 obese dogs. They were divided into 3 groups. The first one was given 50 ppm of carnitine daily. The second one – 100 ppm. In seven weeks’ time, dogs from the first and second groups lost 6.4% and 5.7% of their body weight correspondingly. Dogs in the third group didn’t get any L-carnitine. They lost only 1.8% of their weight.

2.   Do NOT get rid of dog treats

There are special low-calorie treats you can give to your dog each time it deserves it. The ingredients may vary. The snacks can be made of sweet potatoes, vegetables, and even freeze-dried lamb lungs. Yes, the latter is a serious doggy favorite.

Such products are usually fat-free and high in healthy nutrients. That’s why it is safe to give it to your dog 4-5 times a day.

3.   Add vegetables and fruits to your dog’s diet

Vegetables and fruits are low in calories, so it’s absolutely safe to include them in your pet’s diet. Moreover, that’s how you can diversify the meal.

It is a great alternative to highly-processed store-bought treats. It would be great if you mix them into your dog’s diet.

Green beans and baby carrots are a perfect snack for your dog. These products are gentle on the tummy, so your buddy won’t have any digestion problems.

Raspberries and apples are a huge source of fiber. If you give these fruits to your dog regularly, you’ll notice positive changes very soon.

You can also give celery, broccoli, cucumbers, and bananas or ice cubes. These naturally nutritious, tasty tidbits are a healthy option for many dogs.

In a word

We all love treating our dogs. However, sometimes it is necessary to pull yourself together and limit tasty food for your dog. Remember that a strict diet and exercises are the way you express your love to your four-legged friend. Your dog won’t think that you love it less if you change its daily habits. Stay strong, and soon enough, your dog will get healthy and happy!

about the author

Jimmie has tremendous experience with cats. He is a proud dad of Ronnie the cat and he is CEO at – online magazine about feline behavior and nutrition.

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Welcome to Spike’s Dog Blog by Acme Canine. Throughout the site, you will find a variety of helpful dog training articles, insightful dog behavior tips, and truthful product reviews from nationally-recognized canine trainers and professionals.