Admitting your dog is overweight can be hard. We love our pets and always want to do what is best for them, but sometimes this can lead to our pups carrying a bit of extra weight. All of those extra treats, kibbles and nights off from exercise cuddling on the couch can be harmful to your dog. This blog will discuss the different fitness levels for your dog and tips to keep your pet healthy!
To understand fitness, let’s first learn two key terms!
Abdominal Tuck: When looking at a dog from a side view, there should be a bell-shaped curve from their back legs to the bottom of their rib cage. The photo above of flyball dog, Rookie, shows what we mean by this!
Waistline/Torso: For a dog, a waistline is best viewed standing over your pup! There should be an indentation after your dog’s rib cage ends.
To break it down, we will generalize fitness into four categories: conditioned, “pet” weight, overweight and obese. A “conditioned” dog can be physically compared to an Olympic runner. These dogs will have well-defined muscles, a small to no layering of fat, a high abdominal tuck and can often times have the entire rib cage visible in short haired dogs. When looking over the dog, they have a significant waistline. These dogs have physically demanding jobs to do everyday, whether that be agility, flyball, herding or performing for crowds (and of course, lots and lots of cuddles). A conditioned dog has to maintain excellent physique to be able to keep up with demands and to avoid injury. Extra fat on a dog such as, Ziggy (pictured above), increases chance of injury as more strain would be placed on his body with unnecessary weight. Although Ziggy’s body condition may not suit every dog, this is ideal for his lifestyle and activity level!
If your dog is not conditioned, how can you tell if your dog is at a healthy pet weight? You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without applying much pressure. Your dog should have a moderate abdominal tuck and a thin layer of fat will be covering the dog evenly. On short haired dogs, the last rib should be visible and ribs should be visible when the dog is panting. They should also have a moderate waist line. The short haired dog pictured above, Apollo, is a good example of a short haired dog at a healthy pet weight! He has a good an abdominal tuck, his rib cage is visible and his muscles are lightly outlined. Luke, the long haired Border Collie, is a great example of a healthy dog with long hair! You can see his abdominal tuck and muscle definition in his legs, but we cannot be certain of his condition without being hands on. Paws up for these healthy boys!
An overweight dog has no visible ribs showing, little to no waistline and little to no tuck. A significant amount of pressure needs to be applied to feel ribs. Having an overweight dog can cause significant health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. It is important to remember that a dog needing to lose five pounds is much more significant than a human needing to lose five pounds. If a sixty-pound dog needs to lose five pounds that is 8.3 percent of their body weight! Where as if a person weighing one hundred and sixty pounds needed to lose five pounds, that is only three percent of their body weight. Five pounds to your dog is much more than five pounds to you! Our girl Nanu, pictured above, is focusing on her weight loss by exercising more and eating a healthy diet! I am sure she will be at a healthy weight soon enough!
An obese dog has no abdominal tuck, no waistline and it is very difficult to feel their ribs. They tire easily from moderate exercise and have difficulty performing tasks that require a large amount of physical activity. The dog pictured above is a Pug x Cocker Spaniel and is considered obese. He has no abdominal tuck and a very minimal waistline. Although this is not an extreme case of obesity, it is still one that is concerning to the dog’s health. This boy is working hard to lose that weight! Having an obese dog reduces your dog’s lifespan, on average, by two years, so let’s get that weight off!
We all love our dogs, there is no argument there! So, how can we help them lose that extra bit of weight?
1. Exercise your dog regularly! Limit high intensity exercise, like throwing a ball or a Frisbee, to short sessions (10 minutes). Over-doing it on strenuous activity can be hard on your dog’s joints, especially if they are overweight. You want to lengthen low intensity activities, like walking, swimming or off leash hiking. These are easier on your dogs joints and they can perform these activities for much longer!
2. Feed a healthy, grain free diet and use a measuring cup when giving meals! Make sure you are reading the ingredients in your pup’s food and avoid by-products and corn. If you are feeding your dog a raw diet, make sure you are only feeding two percent of your dog’s ideal body weight. It is okay to cut back on your dogs food, just try not to look directly into their puppy eyes when they beg you for more! Stay tuned for a blog with more specifics on what to feed your dog!
3. Visit your vet regularly and weigh your pet! If you are unsure if your pet is at a healthy weight, ask an Auntie! We would love to help you keep your pet in tiptop shape.
4. Bringing your dog to daycare is a great start! If you are interested in this, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Lastly, the most difficult of all, be critical of your dog’s weight. Try not to take it personally if someone mentions that your pup could shed a few pounds because it is better for them in the long run!
Come visit us at 25 Otter Street in Winnipeg if you have any questions or send us an email at email@example.com!
Keep those tails waggin’ and those kisses coming!