How to Tell If Your Dog Is Overweight

Dog Food

ow to tell if your dog is overweight

The short version:

How to check if your dog is overweight:

  • Feel for their ribs. Can you feel them?
  • Feel for fat pads. Do they have deposits of fat?
  • Look at them from above, do they have a waist?
  • Look at them from the side. Does their tummy hang down?
  • Pay attention to them. Do they struggle on walks or get tired during play?

Maintaining a healthy weight is key to keeping your dog happy and well. Putting on extra kilos can place them at risk of disease, impede exercise, and significantly reduce lifespan. Despite the seriousness of the issue, many of us don’t even realise our pups have put on a few. This can be for a several reasons: their fur or body shape makes it hard to tell, we aren’t aware of the ideal weight, or we just think they look cute the way they are. Here’s how to tell if your dog is overweight.

How to Check If Your Dog Is Overweight

Research indicates that 60% of dogs are overweight or obese, but only 15% of owners are aware of it. Those figures show that we could all probably stand to think about our mate’s waist line a little more. 

So, how to tell if your dog is overweight? First, it’s useful to know that certain dog breeds gain weight more easily than others. Even if you have regular check ups with your vet, they might be hesitant to mention it. It’s a sensitive subject and feedback many owners aren’t open to. Asking your them specifically about your dog’s weight during a check up can show that you’re open to discuss this important health indicator. Because while it can hurt to admit our pet is overweight, it’s vital we’re realistic and honest with ourselves about their bodies and health.

Weight guides and BMI calculators can be misleading when it comes to judging what’s a healthy weight for your dog. Skip them and try these easy steps.

Check Their Ribs

Run your hands over your dog’s ribs to see if you can feel the individual contours. Ideally there should be a light layer of fat, but not enough to prevent you feeling bone. If you can’t feel anything your dog is likely overweight. If the ribs are very prominent don’t stress too much. They may be underweight, but for many lean breeds (such as greyhounds) that’s normal.

Look at Them from Above

Stand over your dog to get a bird’s eye view of their outline. Most breeds should have a noticeable waist, giving them an hourglass-like shape. If they’re more of an oval they could probably shed some kilos. 

Look at Them from the Side

Your dog’s tummy should be tucked in so it doesn’t hang below their rib cage. If it extends below their ribs they could be overweight. 

This guide can help you understand what you’re looking for.

Dog weight chart

Feel for Fat Pads

Like humans, dogs often carry extra weight in specific areas. In many breeds these are most noticeable on top of their hips and may be visible most when they walk (we all know a pup with a signature wobble). If your dog is very furry you might need to check with your hands. 

Pay Attention to Behaviour

Being overweight can impact a dog’s health and behaviour in noticeable ways. These include: trouble walking, shortness of breath, panting, lethargy, disinterest in play, lack of mobility and agility, and trouble performing actions that were once easy (getting into a car or on the couch).

If you’ve noticed any of these chat to your vet.

For more on dog health, check out:
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Underweight
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
How to Choose the Best Dry Dog Food

Written by on for Off The Leash

Article last updated on February 16, 2022

Doug never had a dog growing up but as soon as he stopped moving around knew he needed a dog in his life. Enter Snoop the Beagle. Doug worked for 7 years designing and making dog treats and food for some of Australia's best brands. Now a Co-Founder of Scratch Pet Food.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Use a feeding calculator to prevent overfeeding.
  • Reduce food treats and closely check the nutritional information of the treats they do get.
  • Swap out treats with non food rewards (attention, playtime, extra walks etc)
  • Find an exercise they enjoy. That could be walks in new places, swims, or even extended play sessions
  • Go slow and don’t exhaust them. Allow them to build up fitness overtime.
  • Up their exercise intensity, try a weighted vest or taking them for walks on sand.

There is no perfect weight for any dog. It all depends on their breed, size, shape, and amount of hair. Rather than fixating on weight, think about shape. You can check that by:

  • Feeling for their ribs. Can you feel them?
  • Feeling for fat pads. Do they have deposits of fat?
  • Looking at them from above, do they have a waist?
  • Looking at them from the side. Does their tummy hang down?
  • Paying attention to them. Do they struggle on walks or get tired during play?

Yes. weight can be a major trigger for many diseases and health issues. If your dog is overweight it’s vital you take action to help them manage it.

Help them exercise. Getting fit can be fun. Take them on long walks with you to new and interesting (smelling) places. Playtime can also burn a lot of calories to dust off the frisby!

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