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Is Your Dog Overweight?

Dr. Liz Bales shares with us how to tell if your dog is overweight, and what you can do about it!

By: Dr. Liz Bales

Last Updated:


If you are spending more time at home, you  are getting to enjoy more togetherness with your dog. For some of us, that means more walks and play time. It might also mean more table scraps and snacking together. Has your dog gotten a little plump? You are not alone. This extra weight on your dog might not seem like a big deal, but it's actually dangerous, and causes health problems ranging from diabetes to arthritis and painful joints. Studies show that overweight dogs live a shorter life.

source: AVMA

To tell if your dog is overweight, run both hands, palms down, across both sides of your dog's rib cage, with gentle pressure, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs. Your dog’s abdomen should slope up gently where it meets their hind legs, and should taper slightly past the rib cage.

Ideally, you would include your veterinarian in your dog’s healthy weight loss plan.  This is likely not an “essential” visit and will need to wait.  But, there are some simple things that you can do to get started.

To help your dog lose weight, you will need to find the right portion control, exercise and stress reduction for your dog. 

First, figure out the amount that your dog is eating in a day and decrease the total day’s calories by %10. That might seem simple, but many households have no idea how much food they are feeding in a day. If your dog is a volume eater, a weight loss formula will give them more actual food to eat for the calories, it also may have the vitamins, minerals and supplements to support health and metabolism. 

Second, treats and table scraps add up.  Remember that your dog is a fraction of your size.  A normal sized snack for you might be more than the total calories your dog needs in a day!  Families can be tricky on this topic.  It is a big challenge to get everyone on the same page. Some family members (and you know who you are) simply can’t stop.  One strategy is to decrease your dog’s meal size and portion out the day’s treats.  Once that container is gone, no more treats!

Third, most dogs were born and bred to do a job – hunt, guard, retrieve etc. In our family life, our dogs are unemployed and are simply our companions.  Give your dog a job to do at every meal.  A meal served in a bowl is a wasted opportunity for fun.  Explore puzzle feeders, and snuffle mats. My dog and I like to save a handful of kibble for training.  Working for food is way more fun than gobbling from a bowl. 

Fourth, start playing. This is the best way to enjoy your life together. Balls, tugging toys, and even a good old fashioned habit of daily walks or runs (if this is safe where you live) are great ways to get your dog moving and decrease stress.

Gradual, steady weight loss is best for our dog.  Give this tips a try and let us know how it works for you and your dog!

Waggs and purrs,

Dr. Liz Bales

Written by Dr. Liz Bales, who we are excited to announce will be collaborating with Modern Dog for all things dog health-related, stay tuned!

The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Dr. Liz Bales, has only ever wanted to be a veterinarian. She has such a passion for her job, that she says if she weren’t a vet, she would be studying to become one. She loves “helping pets and the people who love them be happy and healthy!  Helping people translate complicated medical information into practical tips on how to care for, and connect with their pets is the best part of her job” Not just a veterinarian, Dr. Bales shares her passion through writing, giving speeches, and appearing on shows such as Fox and Friends, ABC News, and Cheddar. She has even started her own company, Doc and Phoebe, and invented a revolutionary cat product—the Indoor Hunting Feeder.

Dr. Bales’ favorite quote reflects her love and compassion for animals: “When a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into Heaven. At the head of the bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animals, based on what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge…and which are turned away.” With this in mind, Dr. Bales tries to live every day by her grandfather’s advice: “These days are precious. Don’t waste them.”


Last Updated:

By: Dr. Liz Bales
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