Recent years have seen a sudden skyrocket in pet obesity rates. This is primarily because a majority of pet parents have sought to feed their pets too much kibble, scraps, and treats as a way of demonstrating their love and affection.
Yes, showing your pet how much you care and love them is as important to you as it is to them! However, it is important to ensure that love is not portrayed as excessive feeding, which can result in pets with severe weight issues.
Statistics reveal that vets estimate as much as 59% of pets globally are obese. There has been a whopping increase of 158% in the number of obese dogs in the world. Dogs that have been neutered or spayed are also 200% more likely to gain significant weight and become classified as obese.
Obesity can bring about a slew of different physical and emotional problems in your dogs. For instance, obese pets are estimated to live 2.5 years shorter in their lifespans compared to their non-obese counterparts. Being significantly overweight can also cause a great deal of emotional stress in the pet.
With growing rates of obesity, the phenomenon is also becoming significantly normalized. The result is that not many owners may recognize that their pet’s weight can be problematic. Therefore, not much action is taken to resolve the issue before it worsens.
Understanding your dog’s average healthy weight can help you come to accurate estimations on whether your dog is obese or not. If yes, this will help you determine what are the next steps you need to take.
Average Healthy Dog Weight - The Problem
One of the problems associated with identifying the average healthy dog weight of a breed is that there are multiple different sizes and breeds of dogs. It is, therefore, virtually impossible to identify an average weight that remains uniform across all dogs in a breed.
Weight can also vary greatly depending upon other health conditions of the dog and whether they have been neutered or spayed. While there are a number of resources that provide information on average healthy dog weight, the health condition and sex of the pet are often not taken into consideration.
For example, a healthy Labrador’s weight should lie between the range of 65 to 80 pounds. Females, however, need to weigh on the lower half of the scale. This can vary if the dog is pregnant, or has been spayed.
There are also weight ranges that do not take into account the body type and structure of mixed breeds like a Golden Retriever-Pitbull mix or a Husky and Labrador mix.
How then, do you understand if your dog is at a healthy weight or not? The answer is this - veterinarians use a specialized visual inspection and touch system called the Body Condition System (BCS) to determine if a dog is at a healthy weight or not.
The Body Condition System (BCS) - What is it?
The Body Condition System makes use of a veterinary doctor’s visual inspection and touches to rate the state of a dog’s:
A rating is created of the dog’s Body Condition Score based on palpating their ribs and frame. A dog that is ‘Too Thin’ is given a Body Condition Score of ‘1 to 3’, a dog that is ‘Ideal’ is given a Body Condition Score of ‘4 to 5’, and a dog that is ‘Too Heavy’ is given a Body Condition Score of ‘6 to 9’.
1. A dog with easily visible pelvic bones, lumbar vertebrae, and ribs, absence of palpable fat, and minimal loss of muscle mass is given a score of 2. This indicates that the dog is ‘Too Thin’.
2. A dog that has ribs palpable with difficulty and heavy fat cover, in addition to noticeable fat deposits on the base of the tail and the lumbar area is given a score of 7. This means that the dog is ‘Too Heavy’.
3. A dog with easily palpable ribs, minimal fat covering, and an easily identifiable waist with an abdominal tuck is given a score of 4. This dog is in the ‘Ideal’ category.
Taking your dog to their veterinary specialist can help you determine whether your pet is at an average healthy weight or not.
What To Do if Your Dog is Obese?
If your dog has been diagnosed as obese by your veterinary doctor, there are a number of steps that you can undertake to help your pet achieve a healthy weight.
The first step is establishing a baseline with your doctor to determine what is the ideal weight for your pet depending on their conditions and other contributing factors.
This can be followed by:
1. Keeping Your Dog Active
Exercise can prove to be extremely beneficial in helping your overweight dog shed a couple or more of those unnecessary pounds! Increasing your dog’s physical activity burns excess energy as well as extra calories consumed.
Consider increasing playtime from 30 minutes to an hour, or going for a long hike with your furry best friend. Camping with your dog could be another great activity! There are also a number of online guides available to create an engaging and interactive indoor environment to keep your dog physically fit.
2. Reduce Table Scraps and Treats
This may take considerable effort on your part, but learn not to volunteer too many table scraps or treats. Those puppy dog eyes may have you tempted but keeping these at a minimum can be beneficial and contribute to a decrease in your dog’s weight. Think of treats as chocolates for a child. Too much of something may not be the most ideal for the person or pet.
If you are using treats for training, choose from a wide range of low-fat and low-calorie options.
3. Learn the Difference Between Hunger and Begging
Your dog begging is not always about them feeling hungry. It is most likely them asking for your attention, and rewarding the behavior with food reinforces and encourages the same.
Start paying attention to the signs and body language of your dog when they are hungry versus when they are asking for your attention. This can help you significantly reduce the amount of food you feed your pet on a daily basis.
Understanding your dog’s average healthy weight and sticking to it may require patience and determination on your part. Remember to keep monitoring their progress and consulting their vet to help your dog get to its best shape!