We all love our pets.  We want them to be happy and to live long, healthy lives.  And in order to do so, a healthy weight is important.  Overweight dogs are at risk for a variety of health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory issues, and joint/skeletal problems.  But how do you know if your dog is overweight?

Pet weightYour vet is your best source to tell you if your dog is healthy or in need of shedding some excess pounds, but if you want to do your own check before your pooch’s next appointment, here is one way to do so…while standing over your dog, look down and check for its waist (there should be a noticeable indentation behind their ribs). If you put your hands lightly on its ribs, you should be able to feel them, but they should not be sticking out. If you can’t feel them, it is probable that your dog is overweight.

Wondering more precisely how healthy your dog’s weight is?  Check out the 9 point scoring system vets often use to evaluate a pet’s health:

1.  Emaciated:  Bones protrude and are visible from further away. There is little muscle and no body fat.

2.  Very thin:  Bones are visible, but do not protrude as much.  Muscle loss is slight.

3.  Thin: Ribs and the top of the spine may be visible, and the pelvic bones are prominent. The waist is obvious.

4.  Underweight:  There is a visible waist and abdominal tuck-up with some fat on the ribs.

5.  Ideal:  Ribs have a thin layer of fat but can easily be felt.  Waist and tuck-up are prominent, but not exaggerated.

6. Overweight:  Ribs have noticeable fat and the waist and tuck-up can be seen, but are not obvious.

7. Heavy:  There is a heavy layer of fat on the ribs and noticeable fat deposits on the spine and at the base of the tail.  There is little to no waist line.

8. Obese:  A heavy later of fat completely hides the ribs and heavy fat deposits are over the spine and around the tail base.  There is no waist line or tuck-up.

9. Morbid:  Fat deposits are in the chest area, along the spine, and around the tail base as well on the legs and neck.  There is no waist line or tuck-up, and the abdomen sticks out.

*The tuck-up is the area, when a dog is viewed from the side, behind the rib cage and in front of the hind legs.

**Keep in mind when using this scale that some breeds are structured differently and may be bonier or have different tuck-ups than most breeds.

So where does your four-legged family member fall on this scale?  If you have concerns, visit your vet so you can come up with a plan to bring your pooch to a healthy weight level!