What Qualifies as an Obese Dog? Canine Weight Guidelines

An obese dog has excess fat accumulation in the body. Obese dogs weigh more than the healthy weight range suited to the dog's breed and age. Although the cause of obesity is primarily attributed to inappropriate dietary intake and lack of exercise, few pets develop obesity alongside other health conditions. Since obesity develops over a long period of time, pet owner don't notice slight changes in weight until the pet appears obese. Pet owners should weigh their pets during routine vet checks to determine if the pet's weight falls in a healthy range.

Obesity and Risk Factors

Obese dogs are more likely to develop certain conditions such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus and degenerative joint disease. Large breed pets susceptible to arthritis have to be monitored to ensure healthy weight limits as excess weight on the dog's joints, speeds up the onset of joint degeneration.

Canine Weight Guidelines

There's a Purina body condition system available that categorizes dog weight into 9 different segments ranging from emaciated to grossly obese. Pet owners may use this grading system to determine which category the pet falls into after careful examination of the rib cage, abdomen and pelvis.

Nine Categories Use to Determine Pet Weight

  • Emaciated
  • Very Thin
  • Thin
  • Underweight
  • Ideal
  • Overweight
  • Heavy
  • Obese
  • Morbid

How to Detect Obesity

Emaciated pets have visible bones and ribs that push through the skin. It's easy to determine if the dog is emaciated with just once glance. Pets that fall below the normal weight range in other categories also appear thin in varying degrees. In order to determine if dogs are overweight, owners should palpate the ribs and check if the dog's waist and tuck up is visible. Overweight pets have a layer of fat over the rib cage. Overweight dogs qualify as obese if they have a thick layer of fat over the ribs, spine and tail base. In addition, the waist and tuck up is not visible.

Tips for Pet Owners

It's necessary to take the pets breed into consideration during evaluation of the dog's weight. Although all breeds are susceptible to obesity, certain breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Poodles and Cocker Spaniels are at greater risk of becoming obese. Since both obese and emaciated dogs are susceptible to further disease, it's best to conduct a vet check to determine the cause of weight concerns.

Diets for Obese Dogs

In order to help overweight dogs lose weight, it's important to use prescription diets or foods that have high nutritive value. Low calorie diets may not be ideal for all pets. In addition, if pets suffer from arthritis or accompanying health concerns, diets suited to individual pets needs work best. It's also important to remember that not all weight loss diets contain the necessary amounts of proteins, vitamins and minerals essential for regular growth. Pets may require supplements to maintain proper coat and skin due to lower dietary intake.

Although obesity isn't a life-threatening condition, pets suffer from discomfort due to the excess weight present. Along with dietary modification, it's also necessary to exercise pets regularly to improve joint mobility, muscle mass and increase weight reduction.