Signs Your Dog is Overweight in Mishawaka, IN


Like their pet parents, dogs need a balanced lifestyle. Daily exercise, twenty minutes to two hours a day, a nutritious diet understood and overseen by us pet parents —healthy sleeping habits, which will come naturally with exercise. Today in the U.S., sixty percent of our fur babies are overweight or obese. Impacting the quality of their lives and the longevity of life. Approximately fifty-four percent of dogs have preventable weight-related diabetes. Like us, our dogs can have significant health issues from a few extra pounds. They can suffer from depression, have bowl issues, joint problems, and even have heart issues. In this article, let’s see how you can tell if your pup is battling the bulge?


Your Dog’s Shape


The shape of your dog is a wealth of information. Looking down on your dog, do you see your dog’s ribcage? Is every rib easily defined? Does their abdomen area make you think of a barbie doll? Do their hip bones stand out in front of a wagging tail? If this is the case, your dog is possibly too thin. Looking down, do you see pudgy rolls along their neck? As you look at their body from the head to the tail, does their shape look like a pear? If this description fits your dog, they are most likely obese. From above, do you see a straight, sturdy build down the sides? Is there a defined waist in the rear? If this description suits your dog, they are probably a healthy weight.

Before you come to a definitive conclusion, let’s look at your dog from the side. Is their waistline even with their chest? Do their chest and legs have defined dense areas? Do they have a sagging or swinging stomach? If you said yes to any of these, your dog is most likely obese. Looking at your dog from the side, do you easily see your dog’s bone structure? Is there a lack of defined muscle structure? If this is the case, your dog is significantly too thin. If any of these descriptions concern you, you can get a body condition chart from your veterinarian’s office at the pet store or find one online.

overweight round dog


Feeling Your Dog


Our dogs love a good rubdown. That’s a perfect time to run your hands over their body and gain awareness of what their current feel is telling you. It’s also a great way to get a clear picture if your dog has long hair or a thick coat. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs just under the skin. If you have to push through his skin to feel their ribs, your dog may be overweight. Their body should feel smooth and firm without areas with a significant amount of skin you can grab ahold of. Like the human body, you want to pinch the skin, but you don’t want a handful of the pinch. Their neck should feel long and smooth.

If there is any ridging, this could indicate your dog is overweight. As your feel your dog’s body, you might discover a lump. Overweight dogs often get what’s known as lipoma. The lipoma is comprised of excessive fat cells located just under the skin. It is a definite sign your dog is overweight. Even though these are not deadly to your dog, you should always have them checked out by your vet. Dogs also have fat pads or muffin top locations on their bodies. These are common places excessive fat stores on their bodies such as their hips and legs and can cause waddling when they walk if they have excessive weight.


Your Dog’s Behavior


Overweight and obese dogs are typically inactive. While they still enjoy a walk and the opportunity to get outside often, they will take moments of rest or decide they are done walking. If your dog struggles to get up from a sitting or lying position, being overweight could be playing a role. Overweight dogs will wheeze or have whistling sounds when they breathe. You may even notice they are constantly panting; the extra weight affects their lungs and other organ functions. Excess weight on your dog causes them to avoid playing or playing less than they used to. When it’s time for a car ride, they may need help getting in the car. When the family selects their place on the sofa, your dog may need help or simply choose not to join in the couch fun.

Your dog may even seem more irritable because many overweight dogs have a hard time tolerating heat. When they are uncomfortable, they will let you know. While dogs never lose their love of chasing or running to greet, they may appear winded after minimal movement. Overweight dogs will also stop climbing stairs. If your dog has always been the one to follow you around. Quickly going up and down the stairs, you want to consider if the weight on their body influences their lack of this action.

Fat Dog laying down


The Health of Your Dog


A 2018 survey done by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention shows that fifty-five percent of dogs who live in the United States are overweight or obese. That extra weight can cause health issues for your dog. If your dog is heavy and you notice them drinking more water than average, it could signify canine diabetes. Dogs do not have to be obese to experience this health issue. Just like humans, even just a few extra pounds can bring this problem to light. Dogs that are overweight can experience skin problems. Folds in their skin can develop sores or rashes that could become infected. The oils released or not released by their beautiful coats could cause issues like dry skin or excessive licking and attempting to clean their body from the outside, leading to hot spots. Joint problems and arthritis become severe issues for overweight dogs and can be very expensive to treat.

Depending on the breed of your dog, this could be even more threatening to your dog’s life than just their movement. For instance, Bemires Mountain dogs (most large bread) are known for age-related joint problems. Still, if they have extra weight on their bodies, it could speed up the process and significantly shorten their lives. Like humans, dogs face other severe health problems like heart issues, kidney disease, liver problems, high blood pressure, heat intolerance, and even certain types of cancer by being overweight. And it’s essential to know that your dog could have anesthetic complications due to being overweight, which means if they needed surgery, they would be high risk.


Pet Parent Problems and Solutions


Determining if your dog is overweight or even obese isn’t as easy as putting them on the scale in your bathroom. You can get a chart about your dog’s breed from your vet or find one online. You can also talk with your vet, they are weighed in at every visit, and your vet can give you lots of excellent information about keeping your dog at the ideal weight. The chart will indicate the perfect weight of your dog’s breed while breaking it down into the dog’s height and age. If your dog is five to nineteen percent heavier than the recommended weight, they are overweight. However, if they are twenty percent or more overweight, they are considered obese.

As pet parents, our job is to give our dogs the happiest, most extended life we can provide them. We, as pet parents, select their food. Do we choose a specific product or brand because it’s what they like to eat, or do we select it because it has the correct nutritional values? While some view wet dog food as a treat, some pet parents don’t realize that wet dog food actually has less carbohydrate than most dry dog foods and can help dogs lose weight. We put the food in our dog’s bowls. Have we read the labels? Are we giving the recommended amount, or are we simply pouring it in, allowing them to eat until they are satisfied? Overfeeding of dogs is a common issue revealed when a dog is overweight. However, it’s essential to know that if this is the problem, you cannot just feed a dog less because their food provides them with needed nutrients. Consult your vet or a dog nutritionist before you make massive changes. Does your dog get enough opportunities for exercise? As a general rule, your dog needs thirty minutes to two hours of vigorous exercise a day.

While it’s important to note the breed, size, and age of your dog. Movement is what keeps your dog in top health. Even if you aren’t a runner, there are great ways to run your dog, like playing a game of fetch with them. Running is a very beneficial action for your dog. It keeps their joints strong and limber. It also keeps their muscles functioning the way they are meant to. Still, the most significant benefit is it stimulates their minds and keeps them from gaining excess weight.


Our dogs are part of our family, and we want them to live long, healthy lives. By taking the time to make sure they are eating right, getting the right amount of exercise, and even a good night’s sleep. We are leading them in the right direction for a healthy lifestyle. When they turn on those extra sappy puppy dog eyes at the dinner table, please take a moment to think about what adding the extra treat does to their diet. Consider how you feel being in top health and how magical it is when you and your dog are bonding over workouts (long walks or runs) together.

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About Lincolnway Veterinary Clinic

Lincolnway Veterinary Clinic is a full service, AAHA accredited veterinary practice located in Mishwaka, Indiana. In addition to general wellness care like vaccinations and wellness exams, we also provide holistic veterinary care such as acupuncture and a variety of alternative medicine options.