If you are a dog owner, one of the most common questions that you will have is, "How much should my dog weigh?" It can be confusing to figure out what a good dog weight is, especially if you are not familiar with how to do so.
Let’s take an in-depth look at how you can determine if your dog is too heavy and what to do about it if they are.
How Heavy Should My Dog Be?
While some dogs are just born with a tendency toward weight gain because of their genetics, most dogs get too heavy for their own good because of two things: how much food they eat and how much exercise they get. If a dog eats more calories than it burns off, it will gain weight.
How to Calculate Your Dog’s Ideal Body Weight
The first step in calculating your dog's ideal body weight is by using their height and age as a guide. The best way to do this is by using an online calculator or a dog weight chart like this one from PetSci. This tool considers both age and breed size to provide an accurate estimate of how much your dog should weigh.
Once you've calculated your dog's ideal weight, the next step is making sure they stay at that weight!
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Key Factors Regarding a Dog’s Weight.
- Breed – Some are heavier than others, but there are large variations within breeds too. Females are generally lighter than males, but there can be a 20-pound variation in weight that is considered normal.
- Age – Puppies tend to be leaner and lighter than adult dogs. This is because they use much of their energy to grow and develop. Young dogs also tend to be more active than older dogs.
- Health conditions – Certain health conditions can make your dog more prone to weight gain. Senior dogs with mobility issues, like arthritis, may have difficulty exercising and, therefore, more difficulty maintaining a good weight.
What Causes a Dog to Be Too Heavy?
There are many factors that can determine an overweight dog. Some of these include:
- Genetics: Some breeds of dogs are naturally heavier than others, so if you have a Labrador Retriever or other large dogs, it may be harder for you to keep your pet at a good weight.
- Breed characteristics: Some breeds of dogs are more likely to be overweight than others. For example, Labrador Retrievers are more likely to get overweight because they love food and they don't like strenuous activity. Smaller dogs like Chihuahuas also tend to get fatter than larger breeds because they have a higher metabolism and burn off their energy more quickly.
- Medical conditions: If your dog has diabetes or arthritis, keeping them at a healthy weight is crucial because it can help alleviate some of their symptoms. If your pet has either condition and isn't losing weight despite being on medication, speak with your veterinarian about additional options such as acupuncture or hydrotherapy sessions in order to see if this will help them lose some pounds safely while still providing comfort!
Which Dog Breeds Are the Heaviest?
We all know that dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are tiny; some are tall; some are short and wide, and some are long and lean. But which breeds are the heaviest? Which ones are the leanest?
The heaviest purebred dog is the Newfoundland, which weighs between 100 and 150 pounds. The next heaviest breeds are the Great Dane, St. Bernard, and Mastiff. The leanest dogs include the Whippet, which can weigh as little as 30 pounds. The next leanest are the Ibizan hound, Italian Greyhound, and Borzoi.
Keep in mind, some dog breeds are more prone to gaining weight than others. If you have one of these, it's even more important to maintain a system of regular strenuous activity and to monitor your dog’s caloric intake and eating.
How Do I Know if My Dog is Too Heavy?
There are some simple ways to tell whether your dog needs to lose weight or not. Your veterinarian can perform an examination and give you advice based on the results, but here are some general guidelines:
Looking at your dog from a distance can tell you whether they look overweight or not. Can you see a clear outline of your dog’s shape? Or do they look round?
Palpation or Touch
Feeling your dog’s ribs tells you how much of a fat layer is lying over the top of them. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, and a thin layer of fat should be on top. If your dog’s ribs are sticking out, they are underweight.
Body Condition Score
A dog's body condition score, or BCS, is used to evaluate your dog’s overall body fat percentage. This is scored between 1 and 9. A BCS of 1-3 is underweight, 4-5 is considered a good weight, and 6-9 is big to obese.
You can check out this dog weight chart to estimate your dog’s body condition score. If your dog has a body condition score of 2 or 3 (out of 5), they may not need to lose any weight—but talk to your vet about how much activity they should be getting each week.
Actual Body Weight
Weighing your dog gives you a baseline for your dog’s actual weight. This number may or may not fit into the recommendations for your dog’s breed, and it shouldn’t be used as the only factor to determine whether your dog is over their proper weight. Just like people, weight doesn’t tell you anything about your dog’s overall body condition, activity level, height, age, or health.
For purebred dogs, weight is a decent indicator of whether your dog is too big. However, it’s more complicated for mixed breeds. For example, there is a standard healthy weight range for a Poodle and an Australian Cattle Dog because they are recognized by the American Kennel Club. It’s much more difficult to establish a standard, acceptable weight range for mixed dogs, because their genetics are variable.
How Do I Help My Dog Lose Weight?
It's tough to be a heavy dog, but it doesn't have to be. If your dog is carrying around more weight than they should, you can do a few things to help them slim down the pounds and keep them healthy.
First, monitor and cut back on their caloric intake. Your veterinarian can give you guidance on how many calories this should be. You may also need to increase their activity level—taking them on more walks or runs, playing fetch, or even just letting them run around in the backyard are all great ways to help them shed some pounds.
What Types of Foods Will Help Your Dog if They Are Too Heavy?
Meat is a great source of protein, and they need plenty of protein in their diet. There’s no need to overdo it with meat, though; you won't be doing your dog any favors by feeding them too much. Meat should make up about 25% of your dog's diet.
Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood are good sources of protein, which is necessary for the growth and repair of your dog's body tissues.
Omega 3 fatty acids in fish can help keep your dog's skin, coat, and heart health. Omega 3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce your dog's risk of developing allergies or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Vegetables are a great choice for fatter dogs. They're high in fiber, which can aid digestion and help with weight loss by making you feel fuller longer. Vegetables are also a good source of vitamins and minerals that your pet needs to stay healthy, especially if they're on a diet.
Grain is a good source of carbohydrates. However, grains should be whole grains and not refined. Avoid corn, rice, and wheat, as these are high in starch. Gluten can be problematic for some dogs with allergies or digestive issues.
The Problem of Overfeeding
Many owners inadvertently cause their pups to be too heavy because they overfeed them. It’s not always intentional. Here are some reasons you may accidentally be feeding your dog too much:
- Failing to use a measuring cup to measure food
- Not reducing food intake when your dog takes in snacks and treats
- Not adjusting dry food intake when wet food is added to the diet
- Giving your dog food when they ask for it
- Failing to recognize that a dog is obese
A good rule of thumb for feeding your dog treats is to ensure they don’t account for more than 10% of their overall caloric intake. If your dog is getting more than that, it may be time to reduce their treat intake or find nutritious, lower-calorie treats to help your dog with weight loss.
What is my dog's ideal weight?
There are a few factors that come into play regarding a dog’s healthy weight.
- Breed – Some are heavier than others, but there are large variations within them too. Females are generally lighter than males, but about 20 pounds variation in weight is considered normal.
- Age – Puppies tend to be leaner and lighter than adults. This is because they are using a lot of their energy to grow and develop. Young dogs also tend to be more active than older ones.
- Health conditions – Certain conditions can make your dog more prone to weight gain. Senior pups with mobility issues, like arthritis, may have difficulty exercising and, therefore, more difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
How Do You Help a Dog Lose Weight?
If your dog needs to lose weight, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian to develop a plan for healthy weight loss. There are several options that you can employ to help your dog lose weight:
- Establish a program for regular exercise
- Restrict calories under your vet’s direction
- Eliminate high-calorie treats and table scraps from your dog’s diet
- Your vet may recommend prescription weight loss foods
- Re-evaluate other ways to show affection to your dog besides food
It’s clear that all owners need to take steps to maintain a healthy weight for their own dog. Here is a summary of the steps you can take to prevent your dog from becoming overweight:
- Ensure your dog gets daily aerobic exercise every day, including walks and playtime
- Make sure they are getting enough sleep to recover from any exercise.
- Treats should make up no more than 10% of a dog’s diet
- Feeding amounts should be adjusted according to activity levels, age, dog breed, and whether your dog is spayed or neutered.
- Assess your dog’s weight on a regular basis.
- Use a measuring cup for your dog’s food – don’t just guess.
- If your dog is overweight, discuss with your veterinarian the steps you can take to correct the problem.
For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.
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