Your dog’s weight is one of the core aspects of his or her overall health. Being within a normal weight range is crucial for disease prevention, quality of life, and longevity. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, diet, or activity level, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. If your dog appears to be in good overall conditioning, you can probably wait until the next regularly scheduled check-up to ask the vet if your dog is at a healthy weight.
Your Dog’s Weight
There’s no one ideal weight range for dogs, due to considerable variations among breeds. A dog’s ideal weight also depends on factors like sex, height, and general stature. Here’s a look at the ideal weight ranges for some popular breeds:
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Males: 85 lbs.
- Females: 75 lbs.
- 20-30 lbs.
- No more than six lbs.
- French Bulldogs
- No more than 28 lbs.
- Japanese Chins
- Seven to 11 lbs.
- Males: 160-230 lbs.
- Females: 120-170 lbs.
- 14-18 lbs.
Your Dog’s Body Composition
Bear in mind that the number on the scale should be considered in light of other factors, such as body composition. As an example, consider the typical body composition of a professional athlete. From NFL pros to tennis stars, athletes have greater muscle mass than the average human. This means they may weigh more than what would be considered healthy, yet the extra weight is comprised of muscle, not fat. Most dogs aren’t a canine version of a bodybuilder, but some breeds do tend to grow more muscle than others, like the bully breeds.
Your Dog’s Body Condition Score
Vets use the body condition score (BCS) to evaluate whether a dog is at a healthy weight. The determination of the BCS is based on visual observations and palpation, or touch. Four criteria go into determining a BCS:
- Amount of excess fat underneath the skin
- Whether the ribs can be easily felt
- Prominence of the waist and abdominal tuck
- Amount of muscle mass present
On a nine-point scale, a score of four or five is ideal. Less than four is underweight and greater than five is overweight. You can ask your veterinarian to assess your dog’s BCS, but you can also evaluate your dog’s condition at home. Gently slide your hands over your dog’s belly. Can you feel individual ribs without pressing too hard? If so, your dog may be at a healthy weight. If the ribs are hidden behind a great deal of fatty tissue and cannot be easily felt, then your dog may be overweight.
Your Dog’s Weight Reduction Plan
If the vet determines that your dog is indeed overweight, he or she can develop a plan for helping your dog lose the extra pounds. It isn’t healthy for an animal to lose a great deal of weight quickly. Instead, focus on incorporating small, healthy changes to your pet’s routine. Consider making these changes:
- Avoid feeding your dog table scraps.
- Avoid giving high-calorie treats.
- Give low-calorie treats on an occasional basis.
- Switch to a lower-calorie dog food if your veterinarian recommends it.
- Make your dog work harder for meals by introducing food puzzles.
- Encourage your dog to exercise with you.
- Pamper your dog with new toys that encourage activity.
Your Dog’s Weight Gain Plan
Most canine caretakers struggle with overweight dogs, rather than underweight ones. However, your dog might be underweight if he or she is recovering from a serious illness or you’ve recently adopted a previously neglected rescue pet. Your veterinarian can help you get your dog to a healthier weight by providing food recommendations. The vet may suggest high-calorie, supplemental treats to give between meals. The vet can also check for issues that might interfere with eating, such as jaw problems or tooth loss. Exercise is still beneficial for underweight dogs, although you shouldn’t encourage your dog to exercise too strenuously or for too long until he or she achieves a healthy weight.
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