In most cases, a lean dog is a healthy dog. Vets believe that dogs who are a healthy weight live up to 2 years longer than an overweight dog. But how can you tell if your dog is underweight or if their weight is an issue at all? These 6 points will help you troubleshoot:
Is an overweight dog becoming the new norm?
In 2019 vets believed that 51% of the UK's dogs were obese. This is a grim number but the more you see overweight dogs the more normal it becomes, up until the point that a healthy dog then attracts comments about being too thin. Do not allow owners with overweight dogs to influence you. A lean dog is a healthy dog. Use the body condition checker at the end of this blog to put your mind at rest and do not be swayed by others' criticism. You are doing a great job ensuring your dog is not overweight and your dog will thank you in the long run!
How old is your dog?
Puppies and adolescent dogs can go through periods of looking leggy and thin, then they fill out and look a bit chubby. This is normal, your puppy will grow in spurts and will change rapidly. Adolescent dogs can still look slender, they are continually active and will 'thicken' as they mature. If you are worried about your puppies weight, check with littermates or ask your vet the next time you are in. Trying to pile weight onto a puppy is unhealthy for them especially larger breed dogs who could end up with joint problems when they are older because of this.
The breed makes a difference
Know what to expect from your breed in terms of how your dog should look and what the average weight should be. This is easy to do online, by talking to the breeder or the Kennel Club. Some breeds are naturally slim and are expected to be especially lean such as Greyhounds and Whippets. Other dogs air on the leaner side such as Pointers and Vizslas. Knowing what a healthy example looks like can help you decide if you should be worried. Comparing different breeds and listening to advice from non-professionals can lead to needless worry. Do your own research!
Do a visual check
Check 1 - Look at your dog from the side. Their tummy should tuck or slope upwards from the rib cage. If it is an extreme rise your dog may be underweight.
Check 2 - Stand over your dog from above. You should be able to see a curved in waist. You should not be able to see sharply prominent hip bones. Run your thumbs down their spine, especially if your dog is thicker coated or fluffy. You should be able to feel their spine and some of the bumps easily as you run your thumbs down to the tail but if you can clearly see the spine and ribs from above your dog may be underweight.
Check 3 - Run your hands over the ribs. Ribs can be visible on some breeds and this is still an indication of a healthy weight (greyhounds, whippets, Italian greyhounds etc) but if you can see a lot of rib with a thin layer of skin your dog may be underweight.
Make sure they are not suffering from an undiagnosed illness
Sudden weight loss should not be ignored, it could be a sign of an underlying health condition and it is best to rule out any causes with your vet. It also goes without saying to remember to worm your dog regularly to ensure they are not suffering from intestinal parasites which can cause weight loss, weakness and increased appetite.
When to call in the experts
If you are still worried, your vet will be able to tell you if your dog is an unhealthy low weight. They will weigh them and perform a body check like the one above. There is no need to endlessly worry your dog is too thin, ask your vet and put your mind at rest.
Click here to view the Dog Size-O-Meter from the PFMA
Wolfworthy has all the benefits of a raw food diet, such as better skin & coat condition, smaller firmer poos, healthier weight, few allergies & intolerances, reduction in joint inflammation and stable energy levels; but without having to worry about cold storage, long prep times, bacterial risk, clean up or hassle when travelling.
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