Is My Dog Fat? What Pet Owners Need to Know About Overweight Dogs

As a pet owner, it’s essential to keep your dog’s health and well-being in mind. One common concern among dog owners is whether their furry friend is overweight. With over half of the dogs in the United States classified as overweight or obese, understanding the factors contributing to this issue and the potential health risks associated with it is crucial.

All dog parents should know how to determine if their pup is overweight. Additionally, they should know the health problems associated with obesity in dogs and how they can help their dog maintain a healthy weight.

In this article, we will be discussing all of these topics and more. Read on to learn everything you need to know about overweight dogs.

is my dog overweight clifton park ny

How to Determine if Your Dog is Overweight

Whether it be at home visual test or more in-depth insights from your veterinarian, there are a few ways to determine if your dog is overweight.

Visual Assessment

The first step in determining if your dog is overweight is to perform a visual assessment. When observing your dog from above, their body should have an hourglass shape, with a noticeable taper at the waist. From the side, their abdomen should be tucked up slightly, rather than hanging down or bulging out.

Hands-on Assessment

A hands-on assessment can help you feel your dog’s body condition. With your hands on your dog’s ribcage, you should be able to feel their ribs without pressing too hard. If you cannot easily feel your dog’s ribs, they may be overweight.

Body Condition Score

Veterinarians use a system called the Body Condition Score (BCS) to evaluate a dog’s weight and overall body condition. The BCS ranges from 1 to 9, with 1 being emaciated and 9 being morbidly obese. A BCS of 4 to 5 is considered ideal. Consult your veterinarian to assess your dog’s BCS and determine if they are at a healthy weight.

Health Implications of Obesity in Dogs

As with both humans and dogs alike, obesity can cause major health problems.

Joint Problems

Excess weight puts added strain on your dog’s joints, which can lead to arthritis and other joint issues. Over time, these problems can cause pain, decreased mobility, and a reduced quality of life.


Overweight dogs are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, a chronic condition that requires lifelong management and can lead to serious complications if not properly controlled.

Heart Disease

Carrying extra weight puts additional strain on your dog’s heart, increasing their risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.

Respiratory Issues

Obesity can lead to respiratory problems, as excess fat can constrict your dog’s airway and make it more difficult for them to breathe.

Decreased Lifespan

Studies have shown that overweight dogs have a shorter lifespan than their healthy-weight counterparts. Maintaining a healthy weight can help ensure that your dog lives a long, healthy life.

How to Help Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Weight

how to help your dog lose weight

Whether your dog is overweight or not, we have listed some ways you can help your pup get to or maintain their healthy weight.

Consult Your Veterinarian

If you suspect your dog is overweight or obese, consult your veterinarian for guidance. They can assess your dog’s overall health, determine their ideal weight, and provide recommendations for weight loss, if necessary.

Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

One of the most effective ways to help your dog lose weight is to adjust their diet. This may involve reducing portion sizes, switching to a lower-calorie dog food, or incorporating more fresh, whole foods into their meals. Speak with your veterinarian about the best dietary plan for your dog’s specific needs.

Increase Exercise

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being. Gradually increase your dog’s activity level by incorporating more walks, play sessions, and mentally stimulating activities into their daily routine. Be sure to tailor the exercise to your dog’s age, breed, and fitness level to avoid overexertion.

Monitor Treats and Table Scraps

While it’s tempting to spoil your dog with treats and table scraps, these extra calories can quickly add up and contribute to weight gain. Limit the number of treats your dog receives and opt for healthier options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid feeding your dog table scraps, as many human foods are high in calories and can be harmful to your pet.

Regular Weigh-Ins

Monitoring your dog’s weight regularly can help you track their progress and make any necessary adjustments to their diet and exercise routine. Schedule regular weigh-ins, either at home or during veterinary visits, to ensure your dog stays on track.

Set Realistic Goals

When working towards helping your dog lose weight, it’s essential to set realistic goals. Weight loss should be gradual, with most dogs losing around 1-2% of their body weight per week. Rapid weight loss can lead to health complications, so be patient and consistent in your efforts.

Encourage and Support

Helping your dog lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle is a team effort. Be supportive and encouraging, providing plenty of love and praise as your dog works towards their weight loss goals. Remember that consistency is key, and staying committed to your dog’s health will lead to long-term success.

Dog Breeds Prone to Obesity

While any dog can become overweight, certain breeds are more prone to obesity than others. These breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, and Bulldogs. If you own a breed predisposed to weight gain, be extra vigilant in monitoring their diet and exercise routine to prevent obesity.


In conclusion, determining if your dog is overweight and understanding the potential health risks associated with obesity is essential for maintaining their overall well-being. By consulting your veterinarian, adjusting your dog’s diet, increasing their exercise, and monitoring their weight regularly, you can help your furry friend maintain a healthy weight and enjoy a long, happy life.

If you need to see a vet in the Clifton Park, NY region, Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital of Clifton Park is here for you and your pet. Give us a call today at (518) 383-6254 or visit us online to make an appointment!

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About Us

Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital of Clifton Park was founded in 1989 as Animal Care Hospital of Clifton Park. We began with 10 employees, 4 of whom are still working with us today. The name “Cornerstone” has special meaning to Dr. Knott and his family, both because it symbolizes their commitment to “faith, family, and then everything else,” and because it promotes the animal hospital as a cornerstone of the Clifton Park community.