How do I know if my dog is a healthy weight?

sad dog on scaleTelling a dog’s ideal weight can be difficult at times and although we like to think that dogs can manage their food intake, most will overeat if you let them!  Dog obesity is on the rise and becoming an actual epidemic which can lead to serious health problems.  Use the steps below to check and see if your dog might need to shed some pounds!

Step 1

Look at the dog’s ribs. When you feel for the ribs, you should be able to feel each individual rib, with a thin layer of fat over the bone. If you can see each rib, the dog is too thin; if you cannot feel any ribs at all, the dog is too heavy.

Step 2

Check the dog’s back near the base of the tail. There will be a little fat covering the area. This is a sign of a healthy dog. Again, if you can actually see the bone sticking out, the dog is too thin; if you are unable to locate any bones while feeling the area, the dog is too heavy.

Step 3

Feel around the dog’s spine, hips and shoulders. Like the ribs, these should be covered in a thin layer of fat, but you should still be able to locate them with your hand. If these bones stick out and are not covered in that thin layer of fat, the dog is too thin. If those bones are hidden from view and you cannot locate them by feeling around, the dog is overweight.

Step 4

Look at the dog from above. There should be a noticeable taper at the base of the ribs that widens at the hips. The dog should have an “hourglass figure,” so to speak. This is a healthy dog. If the ribs are too visible, or if the body doesn’t taper between the hips and ribs, the dog is unhealthy. Step 5 Look at the dog from the side. Like the taper from above, from the side the dog should have a smaller diameter around the waist than around the ribs. Several types of dogs have a very distinct abdominal tuck; with others you have to look a little more closely.

After following these steps you may realize that your dog is overweight.  It’s important not to dwell in guilt of having a fat dog, and more important not to stay in denial about it! While pudgy pooches can be cute, an overweight dog is no laughing matter.  Dog’s struggling with weight issues can have serious health problems, the most common being diabetes.  Low immunity due to chronic health problems can shorten the life span of your dog, which is a heartbreaking thought for any dog lover.  The good news is, it’s never too late to get your dog healthy!

A huge part of our dog obesity epidemic is commercial dog foods.  They are laden with grains, corn and undigestible proteins that pack on the pounds for our poor pooches.  We assume that if it’s sold at the store it must be safe and meet some sort of nutritional guidelines, but regulation is scarce in the pet food industry.  Even when you think you’re buying a high quality food, something called ingredient splitting can trick you into thinking your dog is getting a high protein food.

What is ingredient splitting?  It allows companies to split up a certain ingredient, such as corn, into “corn meal” “corn gluten meal”and “whole corn”.  Since dog food labels are listed by the ingredients weight, once they split it up the ingredient into three or more parts, they’re able to move it farther down the list.  So your “chicken” at the top of the list, may actually be less than the total amount of corn.  This can be done with any grain, rice, barley, wheat, or oats.  The only grain I support in dog food is oats since they’re easy for dogs to digest, but I believe that grains should make up no more than 20% of the food.

Overfeeding is a common issue ailing overweight pooches.  If you’re feeding extra portions on top of feeding a high grain food your dog is sure to have some cushion no matter how active they are.  Thinking your dog is still hungry is a very human trait, I’m Italian so it runs through my veins as well!  Dogs can seem like they’re starving for various reasons.  Some dogs are truly lacking nutrition in their food and feel hungry even though they just ate.  Most foods are high in sugar and salt content along with empty carbohydrates, so shortly after they eat they feel they need more.  Switching to a better food will solve these problems, as well as give you piece of mind in feeding the appropriate portions.

Some dogs just love to eat, well, most dogs that is, and they will always be ready for the next meal or the next treat.  As an owner to these dogs you have to set boundaries, and knowing they are getting the proper nutrition and portions will help you feel sound in saying “that’s it for now”.  For the hungry hippo dog, I always recommend feeding twice a day and giving size appropriate raw beef bones in between.

Treats treats and more treats.  Don’t we just love to dote on our dogs!  More owners put their dogs in the “overweight category” just by feeding too many treats!  Those little biscuits your dogs love so much are just like the bag of chips you know you shouldn’t eat.  When giving treats you must account for them as part of your dog’s food intake, so draw back your portions when feeding daily treats and cut it back to just one treat per day.  If you can’t stop yourself from dulling out the treats in excess, switch to jerky treats.  A simple chicken jerky snack in between meals is perfectly acceptable, but limit it to just one treat per time.  It is also important make sure all treats you buy are made in the U.S.A., not just distributed from there.  There have been multiple treat recalls and the dangers can include death.  It’s important to make sure only the protein is listed in the ingredients (i.e. chicken, beef, etc.), and no extra flavors or salts are listed.

Your dog is relying on you to keep them healthy, just like a child would, so don’t you deserve it to them to choose the best food? I personally don’t believe there is a dog food good enough for my furkids, so that is why I created my own.  There are many foods out there ranging from terrible to better (i.e. Wellness, Nature’s Variety, Newman’s Own, Halo), so you can always upgrade to a better food for your dog, but I highly suggest switching to the best food out there, my Homegrown Hounds food and treat products.  We have everything from do it yourself dog food premixes to whole food sold in easy-to-serve hot dog links.  With our food and treats you can even give daily treats without having to worry about adding extra weight!  Get more info here:  www.hghdogs.com

Need extra help shedding the pounds?  Sign up for our Jenny Beg Weight Loss System!  You will receive a custom weight loss plan for your dog and a personal pet nutritionist to consult for weekly weigh ins.  Get more info here:  www.jennybeg.com

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One thought on “How do I know if my dog is a healthy weight?

  1. Pingback: Kibble: An Introduction to a New Way of Thinking | The Dog Food Guru

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