How to tell if my dog is obese

It’s no exaggeration to say that obesity is a hot topic. We’re constantly told that our waistlines are expanding, and that we should be exercising more and eating less. Magazines and newspapers scrutinise celebrities, gleefully highlighting the recent acquisition of love handles or cellulite, or promoting their latest fitness DVD made to cash in on a dramatic loss of weight. More seriously, an ever increasing strain is placed on health services as instances of diabetes and heart disease creep up.

Does my bum look big in this?

An unfortunate consequence of the nation becoming fatter is that our pet dogs are suffering too. Whether it’s because some of us overfeed them as we overfeed ourselves, or don’t exercise them enough, there’s no mistaking that our pets are becoming fatter. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) recently issued a warning. Drawing from data accumulated from the medical records of over 30,000 dogs, they estimate that the proportion of obese dogs has risen from one in five in 2006, to one in three today. Alarmingly, they predict that by 2013, half of all pet dogs in the UK will be obese, putting their health at risk. They even go so far as to say that many pet owners in the UK have forgotten what a healthy dog looks like.

So, how can you tell if your dog is obese? If he’s a big, hairy pudding he’s obviously overweight, but sometimes it may not be quite as obvious as that.

fat dogOne way to check is to examine your dog to see if he or she has lost their ‘figure’. When viewing your pet from above, his back should be gently curved, with a dip in the waist area (just below the ribs), and gradually sloping to the base of his tail. Looking at him from the side, his tummy should not run in straight line from his chest, but should gather smoothly towards his waist. If your dog has a long coat, this may be difficult to judge, but running your hands along his tummy should reveal his curves.

Whilst you’re laying hands on your pet, check to see if you can feel his ribs. You should be able to detect them using gentle pressure. If you can’t, this is a sure sign that he is carrying too much weight.

If your dog is constantly on the lookout for something to eat, he is more likely to be overweight. It may be tempting to give him some scraps from your plate at dinner time, or pamper him with a high calorie treat, but this should be avoided. If his food is always available, he will only eat when he is hungry. However, this may not always be possible if you have other pets in the house.

A dog of a healthy weight will always be ready for playtime or a brisk walk. If your dog is too heavy, ha may not be able to keep up with you and will soon be panting a lot and taking frequent rest breaks. Another sign is if he overheats easily. Fat is a fantastic insulator, and too much of it can put him at risk of heatstroke.

Thankfully, obesity can be remedied easily. If your dog eats less and does more, he’ll soon get in shape. Who knows? – It could work for you too.


  • >