Fat or Obese Dog? Why and How to Shed the Chunk


Recent Blog:

The internet is awash with fat dog and cat images because let’s face it, a chubby baby face gets more likes. But are those added kilos putting your pet’s health at risk? And will those likes protect your overweight dog or cat from unwanted trips to the vet? No. The simple truth is that a fat or obese dog is more likely to experience a wider range of health problems than a dog of average weight. And once a pet is overweight, becoming obese is all too easy. Sadly, obesity leads to various life-threatening illnesses in humans, dogs and cats.

Happily getting rid of your pup’s paunch starts at home and shouldn’t be too hard to pull off. Find out how, right here.

According to research, over a quarter of Kiwi canines are overweight (26.1%), with a further 2.3% being grouped as obese.


Fat dog stats

Do you know if your dog is overweight? Getting confirmation is a good place to start, and a good convo to have with your vet. Some key stats to look at include:

1. Using the Body Condition Score

While gender, age, health and breed all play a role in what your dog’s average weight should be, so does its unique proportion and shape. Use the Body Condition Score (or BCS) technique to measure if your dog is fat, or under or average weight.

PetMD, an online site all about pet health, illustrates how to measure using the nine point score system. Plus, you can use this score chart as your guide.

too much fat on your dog is a health risk

2. Feeding your breed

As a dog owner, it’s important to know that certain dog breeds pick up weight more easily. The Labrador or German Shepherd are just two examples.

Do you need a mantra to help you stop overfeeding your overweight dog? How about something along the lines of bottomless coffee is good, but a bottomless appetite is bad… (Just repeat every time your dog gives you the puppy eye request for a snack).

Read more about choosing puppy food wisely to match their nutritional needs.

3. Tracking weight by age

Another top tip is knowing when your dog is more prone to getting fat or obese. While puppies have a bit of natural roly-poly, it’s important to monitor how and what you feed them as they grow. A tailored diet looks to prevent breed specific health concerns. It not only takes into account breed, but also age and portion.

In New Zealand, most overweight and obese dogs are between 5–13 years. 

This statistic indicates a warning light to dog owners. It means we’re overfeeding our dogs in their first several years of life. A good way not to do this is with a vet approved diet for your puppy from the start. And importantly, tracking the BCS.

4. Facing facts – be honest with yourself

Unfortunately, weight isn’t always an easy conversation. Vets sometimes find pet owners unwilling to admit their pooch is paunchy or to talk about solutions. This is pretty scary when you think that a staggering 90% of pet owners don’t realise their dog is fat or obese.

a fat dog is less likely to be active

Health problems associated with a fat dog

Why is being fat bad for your dog? Being overweight often results from overfeeding or under-exercising. And of course, both of these can lead to a vicious cycle. Overeating leads to an increased appetite and under exercising to less energy and less desire to be active. This can turn that kibble into added kilos.

The more disproportionate weight your obese dog has to carry for its BCS means more pressure on its muscles, bones and ligaments. Plus, less exercise leads to poorer circulation and reduced blood flow to the brain and organs. This is basically a tinder pile waiting for a match.

Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of health problems that a fat or obese dog is likelier to experience:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Greater susceptibility to infection
  • Increased risk of some cancers
  • Osteoarthritis

These problems aren’t exclusive to overweight dogs either. Cats too are at a greater risk today than ever before of becoming fat and suffering the associated health consequences. Find out how to measure average cat weight and read about choosing wet or dry cat food for cat health.

And because a dog or cat being fat is a hop, skip and a jump away (less maybe) from dog or cat obesity, read about the associated risk of diabetes in dogs and cats.

A chubby cat basks in the sun.

3 tips to say goodbye to unwanted fat on your dog

The best place to stop your dog from being fat or prevent them from becoming a fat dog is their diet. This may sound all too easy but seriously, you are what and how much you eat. Diet is more than just food. It’s a preventative way to safeguard your pup from medical needs later now and into the future.

Here are some top tips:

#1. Feed them right

Dog foods that are saturated with fats are generally more enticing to your overweight dog’s taste buds. It’s less a case of resisting your dog’s puppy eyes (near impossible), and more a case of not getting the wrong foods in the first place.

Eating the wrong food or poor-quality food can lead to your dog eating too much in its quest to get enough nutrition. Instead, they end up with added kilos, which cause new risks.

Start by feeding your dog food that’s specific to their age and breed, in the right quantities. Your vet will be able to give you a feeding schedule and food type recommendation. Or you can try some of the recommendations from a vet expert in our article on National Pet Obesity Day.

#2. Avoid human foods

Avoid feeding your dog human foods that can be salt, sugar and carb heavy. Many seemingly safe human foods are actually things that can poison your pet.

We know dogs are best friends and family too. This is why it seems perfectly natural to, on occasion, snack on the same foods. One way to do this safely is by making dog treats that are also safe for humans! Read these amazing dog birthday cake recipes for delicious inspiration.

And while we’re talking wholesome food options, also check out these top tips for great dog gut health.

Feed your dog the right portion and food for optimum health

#3. Give your dog adequate exercise

Dogs have oodles of energy. It’s no surprise that some genius coined the term ‘zoomies’. Because let’s face it, zoomies are a real thing. Dogs need to expend their energy. If they don’t, it’s both bad for their mental and physical wellbeing.

Exercise stimulates your dog’s fitness, strength and intelligence. In fact, one of the most energetic dogs on the planet is the Border Collie, known for its stamina. And it’s no surprise that this breed is also hailed as one of the most intelligent dogs too…

If you put two and two together this means mental and physical stimulation, go hand in hand; they’re not a nice to have, they’re a need to have. Check out these dog breed exercise requirements.

Did you know that not only can an inactive dog become an overweight/obese dog, but it can become stressed too? Read about how stress can cause obsessive-compulsive disorders in dogs and how to help. Also, explore the importance of playtime for dogs – a furbulous and simple solution to relieving dog stress.

For dogs with musculoskeletal problems such as hip dysplasia, walking and running may not be the best way to work out. Not a problem. Read about exercising your dog without walking for top tips.

Also watch this tips on pet obesity from Dr Cath Watson:

Insurance for thin, fat and average weight dogs

No matter how much your dog weighs in on the scale, they’re perfect. They deserve all the healthcare protection they need. If they have to go in for a non-routine vet visit, surgery or some other treatment, you want to be able to pay for it without stressing.

Medical care, prescription medication and veterinary hospital overnight stays can cost an arm and a leg. They needn’t when you choose affordable pet insurance. Your pet care plan will help to cover these and other health related costs, so you can focus all your attention on your pup.

Click below to get a quick quote today. With PD Insurance you’ll get FREE dog insurance for one or more months when you sign up online.

Share on :