Overweight Dog Help

Guidance on nutrition to support and maintain your pet's overall health and well-being.

Obesity, an excess of body fat, is a major health problem in dogs and is more common in middle-aged dogs. Neutered/spayed dogs and indoor ones tend to have a higher risk of obesity. Dogs that are overnourished lack the ability to exercise or that have a tendency to retain weight are the most at risk for becoming obese. Obesity results in serious adverse health effects and may reduce lifespan. Multiple areas of the body are affected by excess body fat, including the bones and joints, the digestive organs and the organs responsible for breathing capacity.

When is a dog considered to be overweight?

Obesity in a dog is defined as 20% above the ideal body weight. However, weight is not the only indication of obesity; your dog’s body condition score is another important factor in determining obesity. The best way to tell if your dog is overweight is to stand above your pet’s back and look down at them. You should be able to feel the ribs but not see them. If you can see them, your dog is too skinny. If you can’t see the ribs and place your hands on the side of their chest and still can’t feel them, your dog is overweight. Dogs should also have a nice taper/tuck at their waist (between the abdomen and where the hips go into the socket). If it is very little or none at all, they are overweight, and they will be oval-shaped.

Are some breeds prone to obesity?

Yes, some breeds are prone to obesity while others (Greyhounds, German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers) are typically slim. The following breeds have a natural tendency to develop obesity:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Beagles
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labs
  • Newfoundlands
  • Rottweilers
  • Saint Bernard’s
  • Scottish Terriers

Why should my dog have a weight loss consultation at the hospital?

Before trying different food or lifestyle for your overweight dog, you should have your pet examined. We may recommend some blood testing to rule out non-nutritional causes of obesity. We will then work with you to establish a weight loss program based on diet modification and exercise.

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