Health & care

How to check if you have an underweight or overweight dog

Date updated: 23 11 2018

Just like a human, your four-legged friend can fluctuate in weight slightly throughout its life. But if you find yourself looking at a noticeably skinny dog, or your prize pup suddenly looks a bit tubby, there could be a problem.

For dogs, being overweight or underweight might be a sign that there are underlying health problems. And if your dog isn’t brought back to a healthy weight, it’s at risk of developing serious issues in future.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to see whether your dog is at a healthy weight. You don’t need any scales, and you can do these checks with lots of affection to keep that tail wagging!

Watch the video below to see Everypaw’s own vet demonstrating.

1. Feel your dog’s ribs

Stand your canine chum up and run your hands over their sides. If you can’t feel their ribs – or if you can’t feel them very well – there’s too much fat and you have an overweight dog.

If there’s too much rib, i.e. you can’t feel much between your dog’s skin and its ribs, you have an underweight dog.

2. Feel your dog’s spine

Perform the same test on your dog’s spine by running your hands over it gently. Again, you should be able to feel the bones, but they shouldn’t be protruding. If you can’t feel the bones, or they seem to be buried under fat, you have an overweight dog. If the spine is very pronounced with little or no flesh on top of the individual vertebrae, you have an underweight dog.

You can also look out for a nice tuck under the dog’s waist, and a contour going inwards after its rib cage. These are both signs of a good body condition.

What to do if you have an underweight or overweight dog

First, have a think about whether there’s any obvious reason your dog could be losing or gaining weight. Have you been over-generous with treats, or have you been taking your dog for fewer walks? Is someone new taking care of your dog and perhaps not feeding it enough?

If there’s any obvious reason for the weight change, you may be able to correct it yourself by returning the dog’s diet to normal. If your dog has become heavier, why not read our article on tips for overweight dogs.

If you’re in any doubt about what to do, or if you’ve noticed any other abnormalities, take your dog to see a professional. Your vet will be able to check for any problems and advise you on what to feed your furry friend – so it’ll be ready for taking cute selfies with you in no time!


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