What to Do if Your Puppy is Overweight

Have you noticed a big crater in the couch where your puppy was sitting? Are friends suddenly addressing your pup affectionately as "Tubby"? Even if you're following the guidelines on your dog food for the right amount to dispense, your puppy could be overweight. Overweight dogs often suffer from many maladies including arthritis, diabetes, heart and breathing trouble. They are also much more at risk for death during surgery. If you've had your puppy a while, and have had him on the same food and exercise routine for some time, now is a good time to evaluate whether or not he's in good stead and take steps to remedy the situation.

Approximately 40 percent of dogs are overweight in this country. It is often a matter of just losing a few pounds but obesity occurs as well. There are telltale signs that your puppy may be overweight such as heavy breathing, lack of endurance, lethargy, eating too much and trouble getting up or walking up stairs.

You can weigh your puppy and compare his weight to the ideal pet weight chart included in this tip. (For more accuracy, search for your breed in Dogster's dog breed section to see typical weights by breed.) You can also do a visual and touch test to determine if your puppy needs to lose some pounds. And, luckily, there are many things you can do to get him svelte again.

Average Proper Weight for Dogs

  • Toys - 3 to 12 lbs.
  • Small Dogs - 12 to 30 lbs.
  • Medium Dogs - 30 to 55 lbs.
  • Large Dogs - 55 to 80 lbs.
  • Extra Large Dogs - 80 to 110 lbs.

Test to Tell if Your Puppy is Overweight

It's simple to do a test at home to see if your puppy is overweight. If your puppy is underweight, his ribs will be visible with no palpable fat. Pelvic and collar bones will be prominent. If your puppy is an ideal weight, you can feel the ribs easily but they are not prominently visible. His waist is distinct when viewed from above and his abdomen slightly tucked when viewed from the side. If your puppy is overweight, the ribs are palpable with difficulty and there is a distinct cover of fat. You will probably start to notice fatty bumps around his ribs and tail. There is no waist.

How to Help Your Puppy Lose Weight

Diet - It is crucial that you change either the type or amount of food you're feeding your puppy. High protein foods sometimes cause weight gain but so can high carb foods, so a balanced diet is best. Weight management foods are controversial, so do your homework and draw your own conclusions.

Exercise - It is also crucial that you slowly increase your puppy's exercise. Ideally, a dog is walked at least twice a day for 30 minutes. Also consider other ways to be active such as play and dog parks. There are even treadmills available for dogs if you need to exercise your pup indoors or want a supplement to the walks.

Get a Check-Up - Some conditions can cause weight gain in dogs, sometimes rapidly. Hypothyroidism and Cushing's Syndrome are two of them.

Consider the Breed - If you have a dog who is a purebred or mix with a tendency towards obesity, talk to your vet and adjust his diet and exercise accordingly. Some breeds which are more prone to obesity are the English Bulldog, Dachshund, Pug and Dalmatian.

Treats - Switch to low-cal dog treats or vegetables such as carrots and celery. Try using petting and praise as a reward more often.

Ideally, your puppy will lose about two percent of his body fat per week. Your vet can help you develop a weight management program. Your vet can also help by allowing you to come by each week and weigh your puppy on his scale. The scale in a vet's office is far more reliable than one at home. For exercise, consider something unusual such as swimming, which is good for the joints, or make a game of "Follow Me" and tempt your pup to follow you around the house. Any activity is helpful.

With some patience and changes you can easily lower your puppy's weight over a few months. Just remember to cut out the trips to Burger King.