How To Tell if Your Dog is Overweight

How To Tell if Your Dog is Overweight
7 telltale signs your pooch could stand to lose a few


Canine obesity is the most common nutritional problem seen in vet clinics in North America. In North America, it is estimated that 30 percent of adult dogs are overweight. Any breed of dog can become overweight but it is most commonly seen in Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, and Pugs. In today’s society, it is easy to let ourselves get overweight and, as a result, we are letting our dogs get fat as well. A sedentary lifestyle and a climate that is not always conducive to outdoor activity can result in an increase in weight for our dogs.

Being obese for a long period of time predisposes your dog to joint disease, respiratory disease, pancreatitis, diabetes, skin disease, cancers and heart problems. Even allowing your dog to be a little bit overweight can cause a reduction in life span. A study done by Purina found that dogs that were considered moderately overweight (not obese) for their lifetime had a 15 percent reduction in life span. In short, overweight and obese dogs die younger. Similar issues are seen in people who are overweight throughout their lifetime.

How can I tell if my dog is overweight?
You can’t always tell if a dog is overweight just by looking at the dog. You really need to get your hands on the dog and have a good feel of ribs, shoulders, hips, and spine. This is especially true for dogs with thick, fluffy coats; their coats can easily hide their true “figure.” The easiest way to assess your dog’s weight is with a “rib check” or body condition score (BCS). When you put your hands on your dog’s sides, you should be able to feel her ribs easily—you shouldn’t have to dig for them. In a side view, you should be able to see her waist clearly and, when looking down on your dog from above, you should see an hourglass figure. You can do a BCS on your dog using the set of diagrams on the following page and the list of questions below.

  1. Can you feel your dog’s ribs easily?
  2. Can you feel the top of your dog’s shoulder blades?
  3. Can you see the last rib in your dog? 
  4. Can you feel your dog’s spine but not see it?
  5. Can you feel your dog’s hip bones but not see them?
  6. Does your dog have an hourglass figure?
  7. Does your dog have a waist when you look at the side view?

If your answered “NO” to more than one of the questions, your pooch could probably lose a little weight. Click here for 5 easy steps to help your dog drop the extra weight!

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