Obesity in Dogs

In North America, obesity is the most common preventable disease affecting dogs. It is estimated that 25-30% of the general canine population is overweight. Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excess body fat. Dogs are considered overweight when they weigh 10-20% over their ideal weight. To assess if your dog is overweight, we would recommend that you weigh them on a scale. As mentioned, being 10-20% heavier than their ideal is considered overweight. The second way is by actually looking and feeling your dog. You should be able to feel your dogs ribs with easy palpation. There should be a small layer of fat covering their ribs, but you should be able to feel them easily. If you can see them, then they are too skinny, and if you can’t feel them easily, they are overweight.

Looking at your dog is another way to determine if they are overweight. If looking at your dog from above, they should have a nice “tuck” right before their hind legs. When you look at your dog from the side, their abdomen should “tuck up” right ahead of their hind legs. If your dog has more of a “sausage” look to them, then they are overweight.

Being overweight does put your dog at an increased risk for many health issues. These range from types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and osteoarthritis.

Overweight dogs are also at risk of anesthetic complications.
Being overweight is more commonly due to too many calories going in and not enough calories burned. It is very important that your pet is fed the correct number of calories for their body size. Giving too many treats or human food can lead to an excess of calories going in and therefore lead to obesity. We love giving treats to our pets, but we must be mindful of the calories associated with those treats.

Not all dogs are overweight due to calorie consumption. There are a few diseases that have a symptom of being overweight. These include Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. If you think your pet has either of these, we would recommend an exam that will include doing some bloodwork.

Let’s work together to make our canine companions the healthiest we can make them, to ensure we get to enjoy them for as long as possible. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 905-853-4706. Just a reminder the scale is always on.

Written by: Suzanne, RVT