We all love our dogs but just like many other dog owners we can find it difficult to say ‘No’ when it comes to treats. After all, when they look at you with their big eyes and soulful expressions they really pull on the heartstrings. But when does giving your dog too much to eat become a problem? First off, it’s not just treats – overindulging on kibble, raw food, or cooked food will begin to pile on the pounds. Conversely, under feeding or over exercising will lead to your friendly pooch becoming underweight – with a similar level of associated health risks. Obese dogs have increased risks of heart disease, arthritis and diabetes – pretty similar to obesity in humans.
What weight should my dog be?
We get asked this a lot and it can be a difficult question to answer. There are size and weight guides for major dog breeds available but they cover ranges in order to accommodate individual dogs’ builds and stature. We prefer to use a visual guide like this image below.
Each breed or cross should be looked at on its own merits as an individual – if you can see very prominent ribs or you can’t see any definition to the where the ribs should be then you need to take action. If your dog has a bulging tummy instead of one that tucks up into the groin then that is a big marker for obesity (large tummies can also be caused by medical factors such as worms so please get your dog checked out if you’re concerned). From above your dog’s body should be like an hour glass, going out at the legs and in towards the torso. Too sharp or not distinct enough and your dog has a weight issue.
My dog is underweight/overweight – what should I do?
If your dog has suddenly changed body shape to being underweight or overweight then you need to rule out any medical causes. A trip to the vet should be your first port of call. You can also discuss the best way forwards with them regarding your pooch’s weight. If you want to help your dog to lose weight then it’s down to reducing calorie intake (especially from ‘human’ foods that can be high in fat and/or sugar) by reducing portion sizes or swapping your regular treats for something like cooked chicken which is easy to digest and low in fat. Also increase your dog’s exercise by going on longer walks or playing more active games with them for example. If your dog is underweight then try adding a little extra food to their bowl.
Small dogs and their weight
It comes down to size and percentages. Small dogs weigh from 1.5 kg to 8 kg as a rough average. For small dogs like those we look after it doesn’t take much of a weight increase or decrease to dramatically affect their shape and subsequently their health especially as they age. Make sure you weigh your dogs regularly or do the dog shape inspection. Get to know what is your dog’s normal weight and shape and take action if it starts to change.