How does one know if they have a dog that is overweight or underweight? It can be a complex question for the average dog owner. Just as in human bodies, dogs come in all shapes and sizes, from short and squatty, to long and lean, to boxy body and legs. Guessing the correct weight to fit each frame can be intimidating. Here are the signs that can help you know how to judge the weight ratio of some of the most typical dog breeds: retrievers, terriers, poodles, spaniels, shih tzu’s. The main areas to check are the ribs, hips, waistline, and belly.
Signs that your dog is overweight:
Chunky Monkey -A waist-free dog- your dog should not look like a wiener dog unless he is one.
Marshmallow -If you cannot feel your dog’s backbone, hips, or ribs under gentle pressure, and instead only feel cushy fat.
Ducky -A waddling dog with layers on the sides and hips that roll as the dog walks.
Rotund -If the belly keeps rounding out past the umbilical area where the belly should begin to pull up and into the waist.
Signs that your dog is underweight:
The Girdle– The waist of the dog appears to be sucked in under vacuum pressure
Twiggy – The hipbones, ribs, and backbone can be seen or felt with a no-pressure touch
Parachute -There is excess skin at the bottom of the waist
Signs that your dog is the perfect weight:
· The width of the waist is 1.2 to 1.3 times larger than the width of the neck
· The dog’s sides don’t jiggle or roll when the dog moves or runs
· You cannot see the hips, ribs or backbones, but can feel them under gentle pressure
· The belly of the dog pulls up into the waist, and does not round out or in excessively.
Patience and a bit of experiment are helpful when finding the perfect weight for your dog. Your veterinarian is a great resource when researching how much and what type of food to feed your dog. You are the one that lives with your dog day to day, and you will see if there is a weight change when you change foods and/or exercise regimens. Whatever you choose, make these changes in moderation. If you increase the exercise in your dog’s life, be sure his nails are clipped back to a usable length.
If you feel your dog is a ‘chunky monkey’, check with your veterinarian first to rule out a variety of diseases which affect certain breeds more than others,(such as Cushings Disease) which can make the dog look overweight when he isn’t. This guide works for most dogs. For ‘lean breed dogs’ such as Great Danes, Whippets, and Greyhounds, use the scale for underweight dogs as their perfect weight. If your dog looks like he’s wearing a girdle, try giving him more food, increasing his intake by ¼, 1/2 or 1 cup more night and day depending on a small, med, or large breed dog. It is common for dogs that are intact to stay on the lean side. There are many food supplements available on the market to increase appetite. Veterinarian guidance and experimentation are the keys to dog weight change.
Figure out where your dog’s weight falls. See a veterinarian if you have any questions. Make appropriate changes for your dog’s age. Experiment with your dog on a weekly basis by changing his food intake and exercise program a little at a time. Check out the pictures and videos of weight ranges in dogs at the website for more help with your breed. Give your dog the longest, healthiest life you can, skim down the marshmallows, and let Twiggy remain a memory, keep your dog’s weight ‘just right’. The time you gain with him will far outweigh the inconvenience and effort that it may cost you.
Copyright 2010 DuAnn Lustig Chambers
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