Medical conditions – dogs with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland), Cushing’s Disease (when a dog produces too much cortisol) and arthritis are some of the medical conditions which often lead to obesity. If your dog has further symptoms of these conditions ask a vet for further tests. Some medications like Phenobarbital can also encourage weight gain.
Other categories of dogs ‘at risk’ – dogs that have been neutered or splayed tend to have lower metabolisms so are more prone to obesity. Similarly older dogs, as with humans, also have lower metabolic rates so also tend to become overweight.
how to tell if your dog is overweight or obese
Its not always easy to tell if your dog is overweight or not – some owners assume different breeds should have different levels of fat but its generally not the case – a healthy bulldog or pug for example should have skin folds but not be fat. There are two main ways to tell if your dog is overweight
Check their weight against the normal range for their breed – the American Kennel Club has a reasonably comprehensive list of‘normal’ body weight ranges for adult dogs for different breeds. However, its not always easy to weigh your dog – the simplest way to do it is to weigh yourself, then pick up your dog and weigh yourself again, then simply work out the difference. Dogs are defined as overweight when their weight is 15% above their expected weight and are obese when their weight is 30% higher than expected.
Check their Body Condition Score – this method is used by vets to take into account muscle mass and body fat to give a better indication of whether a dog is overweight. You simply need to get your dog to stand, look at their body shape from the side and above and feel their chest and ribs, then compare it to the chart below – click on the image for the full guide. A healthy dog should have a noticeable tuck in at the waist when viewed from above and the side and you should be able to feel their individual ribs relatively easy whilst being partially visible.