How to Identify an Overweight or Obese Dog

Pet Obesity

 

How to identify an overweight or obese dog

Last week I discussed the measurement of food going into our pet’s dish, and how as little as a few extra pieces of kibble can make a difference in our pet’s waistline.

How can we identify an overweight or obese dog?

  • Can we tell if a pet is overweight just by looking at it?
  • What about the number on the scales?
  • Can you “feel” if your dog is overweight?

The simple answer to the above questions is yes.

Visual of your dog’s size and shape

Let’s start with looking at our dog’s shape, or maybe their lack of shape;) We need to view our dog from above and from the side. 

Standing above your dog look down over their back, what do you see?

Is your dog one continuous shape from head to tail?

How to Identify an Overweight or Obese Dog

Is your dog one continuous shape from head to tail?

Does your dog have a waist?

How to Identify an Overweight or Obese Dog

Does your dog have a waist?

 

Now view your dog from the side.

Does your dog’s belly hang down, or is it tucked up?

How to Identify an Overweight or Obese Dog

Does your dog’s belly hang down, or is it tucked up?

The Number on the Scale

Can we say that a dog should weigh x number of pounds? Of course there is an ideal weight range for each dog and dog breed. I’ll take the pug for example, according to the breed standard for a pug, their weight should range from 18-20 pounds. This was not always the case for my pug Edie, so when she stood on the scales and weighed in at 25,30, yes, even her highest at 31.68 pounds, there was no question that she was indeed obese and I had to face the facts that her weight had to be addressed.

Can you “feel” if your dog is overweight?

Absolutely!

This is known as our dog’s (or cat’s) body condition score or BCS.

A pet’s BCS score is given a number, some use the BCS score from 1-5, were a score of 1 is considered severely underweight, a score of 3 is optimal, and a BCS score of 5 is considered obese. Others may use a BCS scale based on the 1-9 scale, once again, 1 being severely underweight, 5 being optimal weight and 9 being obese.

If you are unsure about the exact way to conduct a BCS on your dog, or want confirmation that the score you came up with is correct, be sure to ask your veterinarian for assistance. You can also view a BCS chart here from the Association of Pet Obesity.

Edie’s body condition score (BCS) based on the 1-9 scale, is a 5, which is optimal.

Has your vet ever done a BCS on your dog or cat? If so, what was the result?

If you conducted a body condition score on your dog or cat, what would their score be?

Author: Kelly Harding with Edie The Pug

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28 Comments

  1. I’ve written a lot about pet obesity as I feel it is so important and I see so many overweight pets. I used to complain to my mom constantly about Taffy being overweight but it just fell on deaf ears, literally. After my mom died when I brought Taffy home she weighed almost 40lbs. Now she’s a very slim 21lbs. The difference in her quality of life is unbelievable. I hope you check out my Taffy the Cocker Spaniel category on my blog sometime! Sandra and Dolly

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    • I will definitely check out Taffy’s story! I applaud you for getting Taffy down to pretty much half her size! I know it’s not easy but the results in our dog’s health and energy make it so worth while!

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  2. My girl was about ten pounds overweight when I adopted her. With her build – part pit bull, part cattle dog, she is stocky and puts on weight very easily. She needs constant exercise and an owner who doesn’t give in to her begging. I take her into the vet once or twice a month just to be weighed to make sure we are staying on the right track. But she’s in such better shape now and doesn’t dramatically pant after walking half a mile.

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    • I love that you take her in to the vet just to get weighed! I do that with Edie and it really keeps us on track with her weight. And I can appreciate the begging! Edie now knows that those sad eyes don’t work with me – however, my husband is a different story 🙂

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  3. We have recently switched Ruby’s food and her weight is now just right. She feels so much better and has so much more energy. I think small dogs are especially at risk because even a pound or two can tip the scales.

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    • It does’t take much for a small dog to easily put on extra weight. We tend to forget just how little they are and how an slight increase can make a big difference to them.

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  4. Our vet has never done a BCS on the girls, but they only weigh between 7.5-9 pounds and they are tiny. I’m lucky they don’t overeat like some cats do.

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    • You should ask your vet to do a BCS and get them to teach you to do it as well. It’s very helpful to know.

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  5. When we adopted our Puggle mix Theo, he was obese (38 pounds!) It took a while, but he lost the weight and is now a healthy 26 pounds. What I didn’t realize was that my other two dogs were a little overweight too, but they are also back in the healthy zone. Now if I could just reign myself in!

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  6. When I first inherited Buffy and Chipper, they were quite fat, since my mom would forget if she fed them. The vet said Buffy was an 8 on the 9 scale! Chipper was a bit better at 7. I did eventually get them down to an about normal weight, although they do gain a few pounds over the winter.

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    • Winter and colder months can be a challenge for dogs that don’t get out and exercise as often. I used to worry about this with Edie, but then I would keep an eye on her weight and if from lack of exercise she started to gain, I would adjust her feeding amounts.

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  7. Neither I, nor my vet, has ever done a BCS score on any of my dogs. Next time I’m there I will have to ask for one. I’m interested in what it would say. My philosophy has always been that if I don’t see rolls (of fat) or ribs, then my dogs are at a good weight. Not a scientific method, clearly. I really like your point about feeling your dog to determine whether the dog is overweight. This is particularly useful for coated breeds. Great post!

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    • Ask your vet to show you how to do the BCS and please let me know what your dog’s score ends up being. And I think that dog’s with heavier coats are great candidates for having a BCS to tell if they are at a proper weight/shape.

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  8. This is such good information! Obesity is such an issue for pets and it can be dangerous. You’re right, a little bit of extra food doesn’t seem like anything but it can add up – I look at is as being like eating an extra piece of chocolate every day. Imagine how many boxes of Godiva chocolates that would be over a month!? It would surely reflect on the scale. Thanks for including the BCS link!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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    • You are so right! What may not seem like much at the time, can make a big impact on our pet’s weight over time.

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  9. Body condition score is certainly the best tool to judge whether a dog needs to drop some pounds or not. Weighing can be auxiliary information but in itself it doesn’t tell you much.

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    • I agree. Doing the body condition score on our pets is a great judge of size.

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  10. Your pet’s weight has such an impact on their health. I’m very attentive to Gonzo and Beau’s weight and monitor them daily. Beau has always been on the skinnier side, but I started to notice that he was gaining a bit in front of his hips. The vet confirmed it when we had a wellness check. Easy enough to cut back a little on treats and he is now at his perfect weight. A lot harder to address when they gain a lot without us noticing.

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    • Good for you for taking action before it got too out of hand for Beau. Sometimes it just takes something as easy as decreasing or eliminating the extra treats.

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  11. This is very helpful. I am going to use this to keep track of my pups weight and of course she is checked at the vet at her regular visits. I like knowing for myself though and this is heaps of help!

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  12. Such an important topic, so glad you’re talking about it. It makes me incredibly sad when I see fat dogs. The poor babies can barely walk and their parents are clueless. When I can I strike up a conversation with them and try and find out why their dogs are so fat. Too many treats, not enough exercise, can’t exercise because too fat…I do my best to make them aware it’s not healthy, I talk about how my dog was obese when we adopted her, how we helped her and tell them about my vet and how he can help. I’m sure it mostly falls on deaf ears, but for the sake of those poor fat dogs I have to try.

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    • I love that you try! It’s such a sensitive subject with pet owners, even vets have a difficult time with this discussion -(a topic I will be touching on as well) I understand from both sides. Some may take it that you are offending them and their pet, but in reality you and the vets want to make life for our pet’s better and help them live longer and healthier lives. That’s what it’s all about

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  13. Great info, Kelly! Pinning this! I’d have to say that my Huskies are all at about a 5, at their ideal weight. However, if Chloe had her way, she’d be at a 9. She looooves to eat, so it is more of a chore to help her keep her girlish Husky figure!

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    • Chloe sounds like Edie, if she had her way she would be back up to a 9 in no time!

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  14. Yes I think you are right, you can tell, and IRS important to keep the dogs in a good shape, not overweight..just small size treats I guess..

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  15. Great and detailed post. Your pup photos made me smile. What a cutie! Thanks for these tips. I have cats and not dogs, but same applies!!!!

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    • Same applies to both dogs and cats!

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  16. Great post! Pet obesity is such an epidemic in our society today, with both cats and dogs. That BCS chart is super helpful and descriptive too. Great resource. Thanks for sharing!

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