Dec 18 2014

The Battle of the Bulge: Your Pet’s Ideal Weight

Happy dog Brutus

Brutus  Checking His WeightEveryone hates talking about weight and diet …boring …and who wants to talk about being fat. But this topic is so important and can add two years to your pet’s life and who wouldn’t want an EXTRA TWO YEARS!

Did you know that overweight pets and obesity are the number one issue facing veterinarians today? Well what’s the problem with a few extra inches, you may ask, it just makes Fido cuddlier. Those extra pounds increase your pet’s risk of diabetes, arthritis, skin issues, heart disease, breathing issues, decrease in heat tolerance, shorten life span…yikes!
A fourteen-year study confirms…
Dogs fed to ideal body condition lived 1.8 years longer than their overweight littermates.

But how do you know if your pet is being fed to ideal body condition AND how do you determine ideal for your pet? Today we are just focusing on how to tell if your pet is over weight.


These charts help owners get a weight ballpark but realize this truly is a ballpark and can have a very wide spread. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has a great chart but there is still a wide range; Labs 65 to 80 lbs. and German Shepherds 75 to 95 lbs. That is quite a range but it is a good place to start. But what if your pet is not a purebred then what?

A visual assessment is easy as one, two, three…and is a more accurate evaluation of your pet’s body condition.
• Rib Check: Place both of your thumbs on your dog’s backbone and spread both hands across his rib cage. You want to be able to feel his ribs. Actually feeling your dog is important, as the coat of many dogs will make a visual check difficult.
• Profile Check: Examine your dog’s profile – it’s best if you are level with your dog. Look for the abdomen to be tucked up behind his rib cage – this is ideal.
• Overhead Check: Looking at your dog from overhead, identify whether you can see a waist behind his ribs. Most dogs at a healthy weight should have an hourglass figure.

There are Many Many Many Body Score charts on line with images.  Check out this site to see visual body score chart.

If you find your dog is missing his ribs or her waist has gone south then it is time to adjust your pet’s diet. If your dog is ideal then his/her present weight is ideal. If your pet is overweight then pick 5 to 10 lbs less as ideal and once your pet achieves this weight re-evaluate; continue doing this until your pet hits ideal weight. Winston, a Pug who LOVES food, has his ribs palpated on a regular basis and I tweak his diet as needed. This way Winston’s weight never gets out of hand.

Cats are basically the same; we want to feel ribs and backbone, waist visible when observed from the top, and the abdomen is tucked. To see a great visual scoring chart, check out The Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity.

Another fantastic resource is the Hill’s web page. They have a cartoon dog and cat silhouette that you can drag a tab to make the silhouette look like your pet. You will then be given a body score and this can help you determine if your pet’s diet needs adjusting!

If you are having difficulty with the visualization we have a qualified technician who can do a FREE weight evaluation for you. Call a book for a free consultation. 604.854.2313

1. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 220 No. 9, May 1, 2002, pp. 1315-1320

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