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the Dog Blog

How to Determine if Your Dog is Cute and Pudgy or Overweight and Unhealthy

An overweight dog getting weighed on a scale

Have you ever described your dog as solid, muscular, or cute and pudgy? You’re not alone. Many dog parents may describe their pooch as “big boned,” but in reality, their dog is overweight. Here are a few ways you can determine if your dog is carrying around a few more pounds than he needs and what you can do to keep his nutrition and lifestyle healthy.

A study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) indicates that 56 percent of adult dogs are classified as overweight or obese. According to Dr. Ernie Ward, APOP founder, “The most distressing finding in this year’s study was the fact that more pet owners are unaware their pet is overweight.”

Signs Your Dog is Overweight

It’s important pet parents are aware of what signs indicate your best friend is no longer maintaining a healthy weight and understand the health risks that come with it. These warning signs can help you determine whether you should be concerned about your dog’s weight.

Ribs test

Run your hands around your dog’s rib area. If your dog is at an ideal weight, you should be able to easily feel his ribs. If you discover it is hard to feel your dog’s ribs under a layer of fat, he is overweight.

Waist test

If you look at your dog from above when he is in a standing position, you should be able to clearly see his waist. A dog without an easily visible waistline is most likely overweight.

Abdominal test

While looking at your dog from the side when he is standing, his shape should be wider at the chest and thinner at the abdomen. If you do not see his abdominal area tucked up toward the rear, he could be overweight.

Trouble breathing

A dog that excessively pants or loses his breath during physical activity quickly – even when it’s not hot outside – could be an indicator he is overweight.

Lack of interest in physical activities

Your dog should love playtime! If you’re noticing a lack of interest in physical activities or that he is having trouble moving around, this could be a sign he is dealing with weight issues.

A healthy weight range can also depend on your dog’s breed and size. Some breeds only need to gain a few pounds to be considered obese in human terms. Review our weight chart below to understand what weight range is healthy for several common breeds, and how their weight would translate to an average person. For example, a 10 lb. Chihuahua would weigh 242 lbs. if she was a 5” 4” woman.

Puppy feeding chart for overweight and unhealthy dogs

For breeds not listed on our comparison chart and for other guidance on what weight range is healthy for your dog, consult your veterinarian.

Tips for Feeding an Overweight Dog

Wisely feeding your dog is one of the best steps pet parents can take to avoiding unhealthy weight gain. Start by considering your dog’s current diet. Are you feeding your dog according to the feeding guidelines on the bag? Are you giving your dog extra “goodies” like table scraps or wet food? These are extra calories that could have a long-term impact on your dog’s health. Here are a few feeding considerations for when you feed your dog.

Limit the Number of Daily Dog Treats

Think about the number of treats you give your dog a day. A few treats a day is fine, especially if you are utilizing your treats for training and to reward good behavior, but remember that treats also add calories to your dog’s diet. Instead of giving your dog treats every time he does a trick or his business, mix in some verbal praise. You can also split treats in half to spread them out over time. You can also use smaller treats, like Bil-Jac Little Jacs which only have about 3 calories per treat.

When choosing dog treats, make a thoughtful decision and look for treats with a good balance of meat and tasty ingredients. Bil-Jac Grain Free Treats are each less than three calories and a delicious way to show your dog how much you love them!

Try a Reduced Fat Dog Food

If you really want to see your dog reach a healthy weight range, try a reduced fat dog food such as Bil-Jac Reduced Fat Formula. Bil-Jac Reduced Fat Formula has 30 percent less fat than Bil-Jac Adult Select to help control the fat and overall calorie intake of your dog. Adjusting the amount you feed your dog is also an important step. For step-by-step help on how to feed your overweight dog, visit The Road to Success. Along with managing your dog’s weight, Bil-Jac Reduced Fat Formula can also help maintain a beautiful coat and muscle tone – along with a real chicken taste dogs love!

How to Keep Your Overweight Dog Active

Although a proper diet is at the core of managing your fur baby’s weight, maintaining frequent physical activity is another large contributor to his overall health. A few activities to help keep your dog fit may include:

  • Taking your dog on daily walks. Depending on your dog’s breed, more than one walk a day may be beneficial. This is a great wellness opportunity to keep both you and your dog active consistently, enjoy the outdoors, and simply bond with your dog.
  • Playtime – indoors or outdoors! Your dog will appreciate the extra playtime and time spent with you. Choose a few of your dog’s favorite toys and engage in a game of fetch or tug-of-war.
  • Spend time at the dog park. Not only is visiting your local dog park a great way to keep your dog socialized, it’s a great way for him to burn some excess energy running around!

Extra weight can put extra strain on your dog’s joints. If you notice your best friend moving less, explore joint health support options like Bil-Jac BreakThru Joint Health. It’s an innovative, great tasting way to support your dog’s joint health and immune function.

Managing the right weight and physical activity for your dog’s breed and size is important to his overall health. For more nutritional tips and information for your best friend, sign up for the Best Friends Club.

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