Hey, Does My Dog Look Fat to You?

Most people don’t think their dogs are overweight.  But according to veterinarians, 54% of dogs are overweight or obese.  It’s hard to be objective about your best friend’s waistline.  The good news is that you don’t have to ask a friend, “Does my dog look fat to you?”  There are better ways to know if your dog needs to slim down.

Ask your veterinarian

The best way to determine whether or not your dog needs to lose weight is to ask your veterinarian.  She has trained for years for just this moment, is an objective observer, and has your dog’s very best interests at heart.

Sadly, even though pet parents and veterinarians recognize that obesity is a major health problem, the topic is often not adequately discussed at veterinary visits.  Take the first step and drive this discussion with your veterinarian.  Ask him to show you how to assess your dog’s body condition, and initiate a discussion about how much food you should give your dog.

Track your dog’s weight

Weight gain happens gradually in dogs, just as it does in people.  It can be hard to see it until it becomes a problem.  The scale is your dog’s friend.  If your dog is small enough, weigh her periodically at home.  You may step on the scale with your dog, then without your dog, and subtract to get her weight.  If you have a larger dog, make sure you keep track of your dog’s weight at regular veterinary visits.

A fitness tracker like Babel Bark may help you keep an eye on trends over time.  You can share your dog’s information with your veterinarian directly through the app, or provide it at your next visit.

Gradual weight gain will alert you that you need to make changes in diet and exercise.  Gradual weight loss without an increase in the amount you are feeding may alert you to underlying health problems.

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Learn a simple rule of thumb

It can be difficult to know whether your dog is overweight just by looking.  The major problem is that longer or fluffier coats may camouflage early weight gain.  A heavy coat may also make your dog look overweight, when he is actually in great shape.

There are different types of evaluation scale to help you determine your dog’s body condition.  My favorite rule of thumb for assessing body condition is the hand test.  The following video will walk you through this method. Remember to consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet or exercise regimen.  For more information and more ways to assess your dog’s body condition, check out the blog at PetMD.

Video transcript

In this video, I’ll demonstrate a quick and easy way to estimate your dog’s body condition.  You just need your dog and your hand!

Rub your hand over the top of the ribs in the middle of the body.

Compare to rubbing your own hand.  If your dog’s ribs under the skin feel similar to your bones under the skin on the top of your hand, your dog is probably at a good condition.  If the ribs feel like your knuckles, your dog is too thin. This challenge isn’t for you; talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog is getting enough food and is healthy.  If the ribs feel like your palm your dog is probably overweight, and if the ribs feel like the ball of your thumb, your dog is almost certainly overweight.

Get active

Whether your dog is in tip-top shape or could stand to lose a couple of pounds, now is the time to get active.

*Babel Bark is a sponsor of the Fit2BPawsome Challenge.

Disclaimer: The above video and the Fit2BPawsome Challenge are intended for entertainment purposes only, and not for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or disease.  Always consult your veterinarian before beginning any diet or exercise program with your pet.

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