Fat Dog: How To Tell If Your Dog Is Out of Shape

Fat Dog: How To Tell If Your Dog Is Out of Shape

Is your dog overweight? Let’s learn about what you can do to help your overweight dog and how they can achieve a healthy weight.


If it seems like your dog is packing on a few extra pounds, don’t fret.

Dogs love food, amiright? So, overeating is pretty common.

If you don’t have an established exercise routine for your dog, it may lead to health complications like obesity. 

Canine obesity is a common problem – nearly 30% of dogs in the US are said to be obese, and in many cases pet owners don’t even realize that their pup is overweight! 

Some breeds are more susceptible to obesity, such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, and more. Other studies have suggested an increased chance of dogs gaining weight if they are spayed or neutered. Or, underlying issues like endocrine problems can also contribute to an increase in weight.

Let’s look at how we can determine if your pet is struggling with their weight and how you can help them live a healthier lifestyle.

What Does the Scale Say?


Appearance and weight both tell a story. A scale can simply confirm your pup’s weight and mark the starting point in your dog’s weight loss journey.

When was the last time your dog stepped on a scale?

It was probably at their last veterinarian visit. Depending on the size of your dog, it is likely you may not have a scale large enough in your home to weigh your dog regularly. 

If you don’t have a scale at home, take your dog to the vet for regular checkups, where your vet will be able to weigh your dog and address any concerns you may have regarding their weight.

Your dog’s weight will vary depending on their size, breed, and gender. 

Are you familiar with how much your dog should weigh? The American Kennel Club offers a breed weight chart. Use this as a guide and integrate it into your dog’s weight loss plan.

After weighing your dog on the scale and referring to the suggested weight chart, how does your dog’s current weight compare? Is it greater than 20 percent of their ideal weight? If the answer is yes, they are considered obese. 

The Standing Test


What does the shape of your dog’s body look like? Use their body shape as a visual way to determine if your dog has a weight problem. 

Dog’s should not appear rounded or oval-shaped. Instead, they should have a defined waistline along the hips/rear. 

Here’s how the standing test is performed. You’ll need to look at your dog from two standpoints:

  • Side view - Specifically, the abdomen area. How does the belly appear? Is it sagging?
  • From the top - Look for an hourglass figure in front of the dog’s hips. The chest should be extended out, then curve inwards at the waist and out again at the hips.

Body-conditioning scoring charts are available to pet owners. These scoring charts are tools you can use as a guide to examining your pet’s physical features. 

The Rib Test

Your dog won’t mind the rib test at all. Use your hands and run them along the rib cage. What do you feel? The response should be the bones, which is good. You shouldn’t have to apply pressure or strength when feeling for the ribs. If you don’t feel them, this suggests your dog is overweight due to the fat getting in the way.

How about your dog’s waistline? You shouldn’t be able to pinch more than an inch of their skin. It should also look like a tucked-up space in front of the hind legs, not sagging or swaying. 

The Couch Potato Test 


How does your dog typically behave during the day? Are they hyperactive, running around all over the place? Or do they spend a lot of their time lounging around, hanging out at the table waiting for a handout?

When dogs spend a lot of their time sitting or napping, it could lead to a sign of being overweight or obese. 

Look for signs like:

  • Trouble breathing, especially when exercising
  • Difficult walking or moving around

How Does Extra Weight Affect My Dog? 


Sometimes, that plump look that some dogs have is cute. But, it is dangerous. Your pet’s health is at risk when packing on extra pounds. 

Serious health problems related to overweight, obese dogs include:

  • Metabolic health issues
  • Joint problems
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Skin Issues
  • Orthopedic Problems
  • Heart and Respiratory Issues
  • Shortened Life Span

If you suspect that your dog is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about the steps you should take to help your pup lose those extra pounds. 

Helping Your Dog Lose Weight

Your pup may need some extra help when it comes to shedding those extra pounds.

Here are some tips on how you can help your dog get back on track to living a healthy lifestyle:

Proper Nutrition

article bowl

Working with a vet, they may recommend that you change your dog’s food and transition to a specialized diet.

Here are a few tips on how you can help your dog lose weight and have proper nutrition:

  • Measure those meals. Don’t estimate how much food your dog is given during mealtime. Be accurate, especially when tracking your dog’s intake and weight loss journey. Overfeeding is one of the leading factors to weight gain. Underfeeding can create problems, too, leading to deficiencies in proteins, vitamins, etc. 
  • Create a feeding schedule. If you haven’t trained your pup on free feeding since they were an actual puppy, you may need to establish a set meal time or your pup will treat their food bowl like an endless buffet they can’t stop indulging from. Have a set time of the day to provide your dog with their meal. 
  • Be conscious of snack time. Limit snacks in-between meals and choose low-calorie ones. You don’t want to take out the ability to reward your dog for good behavior, but you do need to make sure they stay balanced.

Have you considered introducing dietary supplements to your dog’s diet? Supplements provide an easy way to ensure your dog takes the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to live a healthy life. This can create a strong balance if your vet recommends temporarily decreasing the amount of food during your dog’s weight loss journey.

Exercise Plan

dog running outside with grass

There is a lot to explore in the realm of fitness. Walks and runs aren’t the only options that will help get your pup moving. 

Regardless of what activity you choose, make sure that both you and your dog are enjoying it. Remember that exercise provides dogs with the physical and mental stimulation that is vital for their overall health.

Your dog’s fitness plan should be based on their own personal limits. By gradually building up their energy and stamina, you can increase the amount of exercise as time passes. 

For example, start with 10 to 15 minute walks daily, watching your dog’s cues for overexertion, stress, etc. Then gently increase the amount of time and the speed as they progress.

Remember that your dog won’t lose excess weight after just a few additional walks. Losing weight takes time and patience, even for humans! Create a fitness plan that fits both you and your pets' needs and have fun with it. You can bond with your dog while reaping the fitness rewards at the end.


The Bottom Line

Plump is cute, but cute isn’t always healthy. By creating a weight loss plan that fits both of you and your furry friend’s lifestyles, it’ll help your pup keep off the extra weight. Exercise helps support your dog’s overall health and can be beneficial to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.

Visit Finn to learn more about the different types of natural and delicious supplements that can aid in the health journey of you and your pet. 


How to Tell if Your Dog is Fat | American Kennel Club

Breed Weight Chart | American Kennel Club

Body Condition Scoring (BCS) Systems | AAHA

Pet Weight Check | Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

Battling the Bulge | AKCCHF

Obesity In Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals



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