Dog weight

Is your dog losing weight? Does your dog NEED to lose weight? reading-time-icon 3 min read

You might be shocked to learn that as many as one in every three UK pets is overweight or obese.

With weight gain becoming more common and causing some serious health issues, it’s no laughing matter.

It’s easy to overlook a few extra pounds on your dog when weight gain happens gradually – but if your canine companion is a little on the chubby side, what should you do about it? Are low fat dog foods any good? And how about the opposite problem – a dog who’s losing weight for no apparent reason?

We look at common weight issues for dog owners.

What causes weight gain in dogs?

It’s not rocket science – weight gain is generally caused by too many calories eaten and not enough used up. Older dogs that are less active – sometimes due to health issues like arthritis – are more likely to gain weight, and may need changes to their diet to reflect their lifestyle.

Certain breeds with tendencies to overeat, (golden retrievers, Labradors, basset hounds and Rottweilers) are prone to weight gain and may need regular monitoring of their weight to keep things under control.

Dog health problems connected to weight gain

Overweight dogs are at a greater risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and urinary stones. If your dog is 15-20% overweight, they could be obese. A dog that normally weighs 10kg would be obese at 11.5-12kg – this might not make much difference in terms of size, but can have a serious impact on their health.

What’s more, a dog that’s carrying extra weight is likely to live a shorter life than a fit, healthy dog – and what dog owner doesn’t want a long, happy life for their canine companion?

What is the ideal weight for my dog?

There’s no one ideal weight for all dogs – the optimum weight depends on your pet’s size and breed, and your vet can advise you on the ideal weight for your dog.

Is my dog overweight?

Run your hands down the side of your dog’s body. If you can’t feel your pet’s ribs, chances are he’s overweight. Other signs of an overweight dog include:

Signs that your dog could be overweight

  • You need to loosen your dog’s collar
  • You can no longer see your dog’s waist or feel their ribs
  • Their tummy hangs down when they’re standing
  • They have trouble walking 
  • They move more slowly than they used to
  • They regularly become short of breath, and pant more than they used to
  • They’ve become bad tempered
  • They sleep more than usual

“Even moderately overweight dogs are greatly at risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and urinary stones.”

Low fat dog food – is it worth it?

A balanced, nutritious diet is vital for a fit, healthy dog. If your dog is overweight and you’ve decided to take action, you may be thinking about weight management foods.

There’s a wide range of low fat dog foods available – some of which are undoubtedly better for your dog than others. Your vet will advise you on the most suitable food for your dog, and you should always get advice before making any significant change to your dog’s diet – whether that’s investing in a low fat dog food, or switching to a special diet to help an underweight dog put on the pounds.

Is my dog underweight?

Weight gain isn’t the only weight issue that can affect your dog’s wellbeing – chronic weight loss can be just as much of a problem as weight gain. If your dog is losing weight for no apparent reason, speak to your local vet, as weight loss can be a sign of diseases or malnutrition.


Top tips to tell if your dog is too thin

  • They have very visible ribs, vertebrae or pelvic bones
  • You notice a loss of muscle tone
  • You can very easily feel your dog’s ribs

Need advice on dog weight issues?

For expert advice on dog weight and dietary issues, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.