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A crucial aspect of general dog health is maintaining an appropriate weight. Just like in humans, being over or underweight can lead to various health issues in dogs, from joint pain and arthritis to diabetes and heart conditions that affect their lifespan.
Unfortunately, a healthy dog weight isn’t a single number; every dog is different, and the ideal weight for your dog will vary based on breed, age, gender, and individual health factors. Recognizing the importance of a healthy weight for dogs means arming yourself with the knowledge to take better care of your canine companion at home.
Our healthy dog weight quiz is designed to help you understand whether your dog is overweight, underweight, or at a healthy weight, guiding your decisions in how you feed and exercise them. Keep reading to learn how to use the quiz and how it works.
How to Use Our Healthy Dog Weight Quiz
Weight plays a crucial role in your dog’s overall health and well-being. A dog’s weight can impact their energy levels, joint health, and susceptibility to various health issues.
Unfortunately, determining what constitutes a healthy dog weight isn’t always straightforward. With purebreds, you can use a healthy dog weight chart. However, many dogs these days are mixed, making it challenging for pet parents to determine a healthy weight for them.
A healthy weight for dogs is determined by breed, age, bone structure, and other factors. Use our quiz to determine if your dog is underweight, overweight, or just right by following these steps:
- Choose your dog’s size: Your dog’s size will greatly influence their ideal weight because their skeletal structure, metabolism, and nutritional needs vary depending on their size. In our quiz, a small dog is considered anywhere from 4-22 lbs, medium dogs are 23-55 lbs, and large dogs are 55+ lbs. Therefore, if you have a toy breed like a Chihuahua, they’re part of the small category.
- Is my dog overweight or underweight: Next, you’ll check your dog’s ribs to determine if they’re overweight or underweight. By checking the ribs, you can get a sense of whether they have an appropriate amount of body fat. To do this, place your hands on the dog’s rib cage, thumb on the spine, and fingers on the side. Then, feel the ribs by gently pressing down, and select the option from our quiz. Generally, an underweight dog has ribs that are clearly seen and felt without pressing. On the other hand, you won’t be able to feel the ribs with an obese dog, but you’ll be able to feel the ribs without pressing too hard on a dog at its ideal weight.
- How does your dog look when looking at them from above: Now, look at your dog from above to get an idea of their waist definition to assess their body condition. A dog at its ideal weight will have a noticeable inward curve between the ribs and hips. This is their waist. In overweight dogs, the waist is less defined.
- Can you see a ‘tuck’ in your dog’s belly: Next, you’ll look at your dog from the side to look for a tuck — or slope — in their belly. Your eyes should be level with their abdomen. At its ideal weight, a dog will have a slope upwards from the end of the rib cage to the hind legs. Meanwhile, an underweight dog will have a pronounced slope with potentially visible bones. On the other hand, an overweight dog will have a belly that sags more with little to no noticeable tuck.
- How much exercise does your dog get: The amount of exercise a dog gets can impact how much they should eat based on the number of calories burned daily. All dogs need some exercise, but specific breeds may need more or less than others. Additionally, dogs that exercise more regularly may have a more muscular appearance, which can affect their body condition.
- Is your dog a breed that gains weight easily: Some breeds are more prone to weight gain and obesity, including Basset Hounds, Scottish Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers.1 If you’re unsure whether your dog is a breed that gains weight easily, you can check with your vet. This information helps our healthy dog weight quiz determine the potential risk factors for your dog, making them more likely to be overweight when considering the other answers you’ve provided.
- See your results: Based on your answers, our quiz will help you determine if your dog is underweight, overweight, or just right. If you find that your dog is not of a healthy weight, sign up for Dutch today to make an appointment with a vet who can help you improve your dog’s nutrition and overall health.
Keep in mind that individual breeds have unique body compositions. While you might not see a clearly defined waist on your dog, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re overweight. Instead, our quiz considers all of your answers to provide you with general information about your pet’s health.
Always consult a vet to determine your dog’s ideal body condition. With Dutch, you can receive high-quality, online veterinary care and ensure your pet maintains a balanced weight. Regular checkups will ensure your dog remains at a healthy weight, prolonging their life and helping prevent serious health issues.
Weight Management Tips For Dogs
Maintaining a healthy dog weight is crucial for ensuring their overall health and longevity. A dog at a healthy weight is less prone to various health issues, including joint problems, diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory issues.
By preventing weight gain and obesity, pet parents can reduce the risk of health issues and ensure their dogs live a happy, healthy life. Follow these tips to keep your dog at a healthy weight:
Use a weight-control diet when necessary
If your dog is overweight, your vet might recommend a weight-control diet designed to help them feel fuller faster, reducing the overall amount of food they eat. Purina dog food and supplements offer weight control diets specifically formulated to address the needs of overweight dogs. These diets typically have reduced calories while discouraging overeating.2
The best healthy weight dog foods only work if you properly portion your dog’s meals. Even though they have reduced calories, healthy weight dog food still contains calories, and dogs prone to overeating may still consume too much. This is especially true if you have your dog free feeding and continuously keep their bowl full.
Even without healthy weight dog food, you can help your dog lose weight by reducing the amount you feed them. Check the back of the bag for feeding instructions, or talk to your vet to determine how much to feed your pet. In most cases, you can cut back 10% of what you regularly feed them and monitor them for changes in weight over time.2
Treats, including those used for training, should make up less than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. If you’re still in the process of using reward-based training with your pet and can’t cut back, consider switching to a lower-calorie treat or training treats designed to be much smaller and lower in calories than the average dog treat.
Add vegetables to meals
Some human foods can help dogs lose weight. Adding green beans to your dog’s kibble and water to their meals can help them fill up faster on lower-calorie yet healthy meals.2 You can also use plain canned pumpkin that contains fiber to help your dog feel fuller faster.2
All dogs need exercise regardless of their size. By increasing the amount of time you spend walking your dog every week, you can increase how many calories they burn.2 Engaging in consistent physical activity will aid in weight management while enriching their well-being and curbing potential behavioral issues. It also gives you a good opportunity to bond with your pet.
Keep in mind that you should always walk before you run with a pet known to be a couch potato. Starting with gentle and shorter exercise sessions and gradually increasing the intensity and duration can help prevent injuries and ensure your pet adjusts comfortably to a more active routine.
After implementing a weight loss program, you should monitor your dog’s progress over time. You can choose to weigh them weekly or monthly at home or visit your vet for periodic check-ins for more thorough health evaluations.
If you’re unsure how much your dog should weigh, you can use the American Kennel Club’s Breed Weight Chart. However, keep in mind this weight chart is for purebred dogs only; if you have a mixed breed, you’ll need to work closely with your vet to determine your dog’s ideal weight.
How much should a healthy dog weigh?
How much a dog should weigh depends on its breed, age, gender, body type, and health. You can’t compare a Chihuahua to a Saint Bernard, so there’s no single ideal weight for all dogs. Instead, vets use the body condition score to determine whether your dog is at a healthy weight.3
How can I tell if my dog is too skinny?
Underweight dogs typically have visible ribs, spines, and other bones because they have little to no body fat. With these dogs, you can feel the ribs without pressing too much on their body, even if they’re not prominently visible. There will also be a noticeable waistline when viewed from above, with a belly that’s tucked up from the side.
Is it OK to feed my dog once a day?
Many pet parents feed their dog’s once a day. However, whether you should feed your dog once or multiple times a day depends on your specific dog. In general, vets recommend feeding your dog two meals a day, usually 12 hours apart.
That said, how often you should feed your specific dog depends on their age, size, health, activity level, potential for bloat, and your own personal schedule. For instance, puppies should be fed more often than adult dogs because they have higher energy demands. At the same time, smaller breeds with faster metabolisms may need to eat more often.
Dogs may have different eating patterns. For instance, some pet parents leave their dog’s food out all day and let them graze. This free feeding is generally not recommended for dogs who scarf down their meals but may be more suited to busy pet parents and dogs who prefer to snack throughout the day.
Regularly monitoring your dog’s weight can ensure their overall well-being and help prevent serious health issues. Weight fluctuations can lead to joint problems, heart conditions, diabetes, and an overall reduced quality of life. However, recognizing weight gain early on can prevent more serious health issues down the line.
Our healthy dog weight quiz is designed to help you assess your dog’s body condition and determine whether they’re underweight, overweight, or just right. This preliminary assessment can help you determine your pet’s weight status and guide you toward better, healthier choices for your dog.
Klein, Jerry. “Obesity in Dogs: How to Safely Manage Your Dog’s Weight.” American Kennel Club, 14 Aug. 2023, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/things-you-should-know-about-dog-obesity/.
“Obesity and Weight Management Tips.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 5 May 2023, www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/riney-canine-health-center/health-info/obesity-and-weight-management-tips.
“Pet Body Condition Scoring.” Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, www.petobesityprevention.org/pet-weight-check.