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Food & Diet

Is Your Dog Overweight? Here’s How to Tell

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A simple method for determining if your dog is overweight – besides a visit to your vet – is to use the Body Condition Score system.

BCS or the Body Condition Score is a semi-objective way to tell whether or not your dog has the right weight based in his or her body structure. The scoring basically observes three things on the dog to get an idea if he or she is already fat for his build. Remember, this is only a guide. If you suspect that your dog is overweight, discussing proper diet and fitness with your vet will be vital to a long, healthy life.

What to Look for

A.       Amount of flesh found over the ribs

To evaluate the amount of flesh on your dog’s ribs, let him face away from you first, and then put your open palms on either side of his chest where you ought to feel and not see his ribcage. If you tenderly press with your open palms and fingers, you should be able to feel the ribs under his skin, fur, light coat of muscle, or a slight amount of fat. You should feel and then count the dog’s ribs.

Common sense says that if you test this with working, sporting, or athletic dogs such as Greyhounds or German Shepherds, then they are likely to show their ribs. Labrador, Cocker, Golden, Chihuahua, and Shih Tzu dogs, for example, should not have visible ribs.

B.      Tummy Tuck

Another factor to consider in telling whether or not your dog is overweight is the tummy tuck. Ideally, healthy dogs should have a nice tummy tuck when they are viewed from the side. If the bottom line of your dog stretches out right back to his legs, or maybe, sags down, then your dog is likely to be overweight; though not all the time as there are medical exceptions for this assessment.

C.       Hourglass Figure

To tell whether or not your dog is overweight, you should also look for the ideal hourglass figure. View your pet from above as well as behind. His waist should pinch in right just in front of his hips a nice hourglass shape. If the fur is too thick to find out the dog’s form, try to feel him through the fur just to get an idea of his figure underneath.

What Can be Done to Keep your Dog from Gaining Excessive Weight?

1. Do not feed your dog too much. Ask the vet about your pet’s ideal weight or how much he should weigh. Your vet can also help you to calculate his daily energy needs.
2. Food labels lie so go to your vet. Because there is no way for you to tell how much is already too much, write down everything you see your dog eat, and try to best calculate his caloric intake. Basically, most overweight dogs eat 100 to 200% more calories than they should. What you may think is a harmless treat a few times a day could be adding substantial calories to your dog’s diet each day.
3. Give your dog adequate exercise. If you are too busy to find time for his workout, ask a friend, family member, or even hire someone to walk your dog daily.


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