How heavy should my dog be? Are they overweight or underweight?
It can be very tempting to overindulge when it comes to feeding treats to your dog, especially when they’re giving you the famous puppy-dog eyes!
At the same time, you might be shortening their walks, especially during the colder months, because being outside isn’t pleasant.
This could add up to more calories going in and less being used up – which often results in weight gain. These behaviours can make your dog overweight or obese, so it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s weight.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to spot whether your dog is overweight.
A brief summary...
- 'Ideal’ weight varies among breeds – ask your vet for advice
- If your dog’s ribs, spine and shoulders are too apparent, they may be underweight
- If your dog looks bloated and you can’t see their ribs, they may be overweight
- A healthy diet will help reduce your dog’s weight
- Increase an obese dog’s exercise levels gradually to avoid exhaustion
- Speak to your vet before making a drastic change to your dog’s diet or exercise
Ideal dog weight: how much should my dog weigh?
This is difficult because dogs come in all shapes and sizes. It depends on the breed of your dog. Your vet will be able to weigh them and determine whether they’re at a healthy weight.
In the meantime, you should be able to tell if your dog is overweight by their appearance, and by a few simple tests. You can also use our dog weight chart to compare.
The ribs, backbone and other bones are visible, even from a distance. The waist is tucked in exaggeratedly. A naturally thin dog can often feel odd to touch when underweight because they are so bony.
The opposite problem – a large or bloated-looking stomach or a stomach that hangs too low. The dog’s ribs are invisible or only visible if you look very hard or in certain lights.
Note: A dog’s abdomen can bloat for reasons other than being overweight, so it’s always worth contacting your vet if you’re concerned.
Picture this as a middle ground between the two. Look at pictures of other dogs that are the same breed as yours, does your dog look like them?
Weight problems aren’t always completely noticeable; the line between a healthy-weighted dog and an overweight dog can be quite easy to miss so have your dog weighed regularly at the vets – just to be on the safe side.
General rule = less treats and more exercise! Avoid giving your dog human treats, especially high-fat ones. Most human and dog treats are packed with calories – it isn’t difficult for your dog to eat a third of their daily calorie allowance from treats alone. A dog eating a human biscuit is the same as a human eating a big burger!
Feed them a healthy diet and don’t exceed the recommended amount. The most accurate way of knowing whether your dog is consistently eating the correct portion is to weigh their food allowance daily. You could then give them a few biscuits from their daily portion as a treat.
If your dog is obese, make sure you increase their exercise gradually. Forcing them on a long walk that they aren’t used to could be a nasty shock to their system.
Need more advice?
Dogs’ weight can be a tricky one because no two dogs are the same; if you’re worried, it’s always worth contacting your vet. They will be able to determine whether your dog is overweight, and to offer the best dietary and exercise advice if they are.