So, how can you tell if your dog is overweight? Here are a few guidelines:
Can you find your dog’s ribs? You should be able to feel his ribs but not see them.
Does your dog have a “tuck-up”? The tuck-up is your dog’s waist and, in almost all breeds, a dog is supposed to have a tuck-up. If your dog forms a straight line from his ribs to his back legs he probably doesn’t have a tuck-up, which means he could be overweight.
Does your dog have difficulty standing or getting mild exercise? If your dog is out of breath after just 5-10 minutes of moderate exercise then he may be overweight.
If you allow your dog on furniture, does he have difficulty hopping up on the sofa or other low pieces of furniture? This can be a sign that he’s carrying too much weight.
Some breeds are prone to weight gain, including some of America’s most popular breeds: Labs, Goldens, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, and Shelties will all gain weight quickly if you overfeed them. Some terrier breeds, too, are prone to putting on weight. But any dog will gain weight if you consistently overfeed him.
Many popular dog foods today provide feeding estimates on the side of the bag that are overly generous. If you follow the recommendations on the bags then your dog can quickly begin to gain weight. Remember that the guidelines on the bag are only suggestions. When you start feeding a new food you need to keep a careful eye on your dog to see if he is gaining or losing weight. If your dog begins to put on too much weight you should cut back on the food.
If you have more than one dog your dogs may also be more prone to gain weight. When several dogs live together they tend to eat every bite and even compete for food. They can gain weight much faster than a single dog who may be a pickier eater.
Is your dog aging? If your dog is between five and seven years old then his metabolism may be changing. If you are feeding him the same food he was eating when he was two years old then he may not digest it the same way. He may be packing on more weight from the same amount of food.
Don’t forget to count the treats you feed your dog each day, too. They can add up and cause your dog to gain weight.
Finally, most dogs in the U.S. don’t get enough exercise, which also contributes to weight gain. If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise he can start adding weight very quickly.
If you think that your dog may be overweight take a good look at him. Ask your vet for his opinion. You don’t have to change food or do anything drastic. Cutting your dog’s portion slightly and helping him get more exercise will start to show results.
Don’t expect your dog to lose weight rapidly. Rapid weight loss isn’t good for a dog. If your dog only loses a few ounces per week then he will soon be fit. You can do your part to stop canine obesity just by taking a good look at your dog and feeding him appropriately.