Overweight Dog

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Dog Obesity: a prevalent condition that can adversely affect your overweight dog’s health

It has been estimated that over half of U.S. dogs are overweight dogs. The risk of canine obesity can be increased by genetics, high-fat diets, overeating, lack of exercise and health problems such as hypothyroidism. While gaining a few pounds may not make a lot of difference to your body, for a dog with a comparatively smaller body, a few pounds can add a lot of stress to bones and organs. These excess pounds can even shorten your dog's life.

Common health problems associated with dog obesity include:
  • lameness and arthritis
  • diabetes mellitus
  • exercise intolerance and overheating
  • increased anesthetic and surgical risks
  • reduced life span

How do you know if you have an overweight dog?

Canine obesity is defined as 20 to 25% above ideal weight, or enough excess body fat to impair health or body function.

Purina Body Condition System™ for canine obesity


Cannot see ribs, but you can easily feel them. Pet has a waist behind rib cage when viewed from above. Viewed from side, the stomach tucks in behind the rib cage. Maintain current feeding regimen.


Cannot feel ribs, or can feel them only with significant pressure. Fat deposits at base of tail. Belly is rounded when viewed from the side. For weight loss, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for feeding. Compare again at scheduled check-up. Make feeding adjustments as directed.

Why many weight-loss programs fail

  1. Metabolic disorder
    If a metabolic disorder such as hypothyroidism is causing your dog's weight gain, diet foods may not always help. Before initiating any diet, your dog should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out metabolic dysfunction and disease.

  2. “Reduced-calorie foods” may not be low in calories

    Maybe you’ve tried giving your overweight dog “reduced-calorie” food. The trouble is, while this food may have fewer calories than other maintenance foods in the same line, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s low enough in calories to help your dog lose the excess weight.

  3. Lack of exercise

    Without adequate, consistent exercise as part of a weight-loss program, some overweight dogs may fail to lose weight, even if they’re on a low-calorie diet.

  4. Feed your dog for good health