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Is Your Dog Too Fat?

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Diet and nutritional status are crucial to your dog's general health. Unfortunately, many pets are overweight – much like their owners. And – like their owners – pets are not as healthy when they are carrying too much weight. Chubby dogs often suffer from arthritis and heart disease. If you are concerned that your pet is overweight, here are some ways you can evaluate your pet's body condition.

  • Body fat. Stand behind him and place your thumbs on the spine midway down the back. Fan out your fingers and spread them over the ribs. With your thumbs lightly pressing on the spine and fingers on the ribs, slide your hands gently up and down.

    In normal dogs there is a thin layer of fat. You can feel the ribs easily, although you won't see them. If your dog is overweight, you will not be able to readily feel the ribs, and the tissue over the ribs may feel smooth and wavy.

  • Appearance. Normal dogs have an hourglass appearance. Fat dogs have abdomens protruding from the sides, as well as enlarged fatty areas on either side of the tail base and over the hips. A fatty area may also be present on the neck and front of the chest. When obese dogs walk, they may have a classic waddle.

    If you feel that your dog is obese, contact your veterinarian. Tests may need to be performed to eliminate underlying disease as a cause of the obesity. In addition, your veterinarian can help you improve your dog's body condition and overall health.

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