February 16, 2019

Is My Dog Fat? How to Tell.

Is your dog fat?

  She very well could be. Data says that around 53% of all dogs in the U.S. are technically considered overweight or obese. You’re right to be concerned. Fat dogs are unhappy dogs. Dogs’ bodies aren’t meant to carry around a lot of extra weight - every additional pound on your dog is the equivalent of how two or three pounds feels on you! Excess weight can cause heart problems, joint pain, and respiratory distress, not to mention shorten your dog’s overall lifespan.

How Vets Measure “Fatness”

Most vets use an easy-to-reference numerical scale (called a BCS or Body Condition Score) to determine if and how much a dog is overweight. The most common are scales of 1-5 or 1-9...1 is the score a severely emaciated dog would receive; 5 or 9 would reference an extremely obese pet. The happy medium is right in the middle, at 3 or 5, respectively. In addition to measuring your dog’s fitness level using a visual cues - more on that in a minute - your vet will also perform a physical exam. She’ll listen to your dog’s heart, her lungs, and maybe even run diagnostic tests of her blood or urine to try and determine whether she has any unusual conditions that could be caused by or pertain to the condition of being overweight.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog is Fat?

There are a few anecdotal signs to look for if you think your dog might be getting overweight. If she has trouble moving around, particularly in short, fast bursts during play, she could be struggling with extra weight. The same goes for difficulty grooming herself, or even for persistent panting. Constant constipation can also be a sign of a dog with too much weight. The best way to tell whether your dog is overweight is to use your hands and fingers to perform your own BCS at home. Start by assessing your dog’s appearance from the front, side, and from above. From the front, her midsection shouldn’t stick out farther than the sides of her head. From the side, your dog should have a “tucked” abdomen...i.e. No belly hang. From above, her waist should be clearly visible. Next, you’ll want to use your hands to fully assess your dog’s fat deposits. Start by feeling for her ribs. You should be able to feel her ribs individually without a lot of effort and without a too-thick layer of fat in the way. Move on to her shoulders, hips, and spine; a touch of “softness” is fine, but if you can actually feel fat, your dog is overweight.

The Big, Fat Mistake Not to Make

Well-meaning pet owners often make the determination that their dogs aren’t overweight when in fact, they’re struggling with excess fat. A full 95% of pet owners say that their pets are “normal weight,” when statistically, that can’t be true. It’s called the “Fat Reality Gap.” Your dog is only too thin if she has clearly protruding bones, particularly in her midsection and shoulders. Overly thin dogs will have trouble moving around and could have underlying health issues. Do you suspect your dog is fat? It’s okay! Now’s the time to take action, before your dog develops a life-altering condition that could make her uncomfortable...or worse. Reach out to your vet today to talk about a plan for weight loss and get started on a healthier lifestyle for your pet.  

Vetted PetCare loves fat dogs.

That is, we love helping them lose weight and become the very best versions of themselves. Normal weight dogs are the happiest dogs. Reach out to our vets today for an in-home assessment of your dog’s body condition.  

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