While it may seem harmless that your dog has a few extra pounds for you to wrap your arms around, obesity in dogs can threaten your four-legged companion's health and longevity. Our Glendale vets explain the issues involved with overweight dogs and what owners can do to help their pooches.

Is my dog overweight?

If you suspect your dog may be overweight, it's time to schedule a checkup with your primary vet, who will weigh your pup, perform a thorough examination to gain insight into your canine companion's overall health, and let you know if your dog is overweight based on their build and breed. 

Even a few extra pounds can lead to excess weight on your dog's body, and cause joint pain and other painful conditions. These issues may lead to veterinary emergencies or long-term internal health conditions that limit your pet's health and longevity. This is why it's so important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime. 

What are some of the most common reasons dogs become overweight?

One common reason dogs become overweight is overfeeding. Pet owners may unknowingly give their dogs too much food, or they may indulge their pets with treats and table scraps throughout the day. Lack of exercise is another contributing factor to canine obesity. Dogs that do not receive enough physical activity are more likely to gain weight, as they are not burning off the calories they consume.

Additionally, certain medical conditions can lead to weight gain in dogs. Hypothyroidism, for example, can slow down a dog's metabolism and cause them to pack on extra pounds even with a normal diet. Age can also play a role in weight gain, as older dogs tend to be less active and may require adjustments to their diet to prevent obesity.

How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

Below, we'll list some of the most common ways your can tell if your dog is overweight.

Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level 

Has your dog been panting when walking relatively slowly? You may notice your pooch walking slower or needing to rest more than before. 

Feel For Your Dog's Ribs 

If your pooch is at a healthy weight, you should be able to feel their ribs without a thick layer of fat covering them. Your dog's chest should be wider than their abdomen, and you should be able to see a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach about where their waist should be (see illustration below). 

Take a Look at Your Four-Legged Friend's Figure 

Overweight dogs will generally have an invisible waistline. You likely won't be able to detect a distinction between the chest and stomach when looking at your dog side-on. See the overweight dog chart below for a better idea of how your dog should look from the side. 

Overweight dog chart, Glendale Vets

How can I help my dog lose weight?

Because weight gain can point to a serious underlying illness, a trip to the vet is definitely in order if you think your dog is overweight. 

If your veterinarian determines that your pup is overweight and no underlying illnesses are causing the weight gain, they can recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your pooch's weight back under control safely. 

Here are a few things your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friends lose those extra pounds:

Regular Exercise

Maintain a regular exercise schedule for your dog, including going for walks twice a day and playing outside once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog to form a closer bond as well as provide your pup with a fun way to burn a few extra calories.

Diet & Feeding

Your vet will be able to calculate just the right number of calories to feed your dog at each meal, and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your pup reach a healthier weight. Be sure your dog eats at the same time every day, and that you measure out the portions carefully based on the ideal weight for their breed (or size).

Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups

Even when you're sure that there is nothing wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams (physical checkups for your dog) are important. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams allow your vet to monitor your pet's weight and spot the early signs of illness so that conditions can be treated before they become more serious.

If your dog begins following a weight loss plan, visit your vet for follow-up appointments so that your pet's progress can be monitored and dietary adjustments made if necessary.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your dog might be overweight? Contact our Glendale vets today and we'll help ypu get your dog's weight back on track.