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Is Your Dog Overweight
Recognizing the Problem and Doing Something About It!

By Michael Albee
The New Year brings a time for both reflection and planning. New Yearís resolutions are often made and one of the most popular of these is to lose weight and get in shape. What about your dog? 

While you get in shape, your dogs can too. Obesity is one of the most common problems seen in dogs. Obesity in dogs can cause a lot of other health problems and can kill your dog. At best, it will shorten its life dramatically. The health risks in overweight dogs are much the same as they are in humans. Reducing these risks can be as simple as adding exercise and feeding a better diet. A simple visit to your Veterinarian is all it takes to begin the journey back to better canine health. 

Is My Dog Overweight?
Veterinarians use a point system to evaluate the body condition of pets. A value of one means the dog is extremely thin to the point of being emaciated. A value of five means your dog is grossly overweight. A dog is considered to be normal if it receives a score of three. To determine body score, several specific areas of the dog are examined. 

The Ribs:
You should be able to feel your dogís ribs when you run your hand over your dogís side. There should be a small layer fat over them so you canít see them, but each rib should be distinct with a small amount of pressure. If you can see the ribs when your dog is at rest, the dog is too thin. If you can't feel them at all, the pet is overweight. 

Spine, shoulders and hips:
As with the ribs, you should be able to feel a small amount of fat over these areas. If any of these areas are easily felt or seen, the dog is too thin. If you can't feel the bones beneath a thin but firm layer of fat, your dog is obviously overweight. 

View Your Dog from above:
From above, your dog should have an easily defined waistline behind the ribs. If the waistline is extreme, or if you can see the ribs, spine or hipbones, the dog is too thin. If there is no waistline at all, or worse, if the area between the ribs and hips is wider than the hips or ribs, the dog is extremely overweight. 

View Your Dog from the side:
From the side, your dogs should have a very visible abdominal tuck, (the area behind the ribs should be smaller in diameter than the chest). This will vary from breed to bread because some breeds have a deeper chest than some others. Pointers have a much deeper chest than a Husky or a Dachshund. A dog that is overweight will have no abdominal tuck or have a visible belly. 

If you think your dog might be overweight, consult your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to determine if there are any other medical problems before you begin a diet or weight reduction program. Your veterinarian will also be able to suggest various diets, exercise regimes and advise you about how fast your dog should lose weight.

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