You want to keep your best friend happy and healthy, but did you know that a healthy body weight is a major determining factor in your dog's lifespan? In a groundbreaking 14-year study, Purina researchers found that dogs fed to their ideal weight lived 1.8 years longer than their overweight counterparts. Having a trim and fit dog is no longer an issue of vanity.
But how do you know if your dog is trim and fit? While there are weight charts that can give you a range of healthy weights for your dog's breed, most veterinarians recommend that you maintain your dog's weight without a scale. Factors like the size, sex, and individual build of your dog make it tough to pinpoint exactly which number in a weight range belong to your pup. If your dog is a mixed breed, it will be even harder to find a predetermined weight number to match their body.
So where can you go for some answers? As it turns out, the solution is closer to home than expected. Feeling your dog's body and scanning their overall shape is the best way to determine ideal body weight. Feel for your dog's ribs and frame. Are their bones buried under blubber? Or are they protruding noticably? You'll know your dog has hit the right weight when you can feel their ribs with a minimal layer of softness. To help this process, you can also scan your dog's silhouette to make sure their body is the right shape. Your dog should have a clearly defined waist, but too much tuck can mean they're too skinny.
If, like many pet owners, you feel you need a little more guidance in this process, you can use the weight chart below. First feel around to determine how much fat is on their frame. You can match the results with the description on the left of the picture. To double-check, you can eye your dog's shape from above and at a profile. This will allow you to visually compare your dog to the different levels, so you can guage whether your dog is too thin, too pudgy, or just right. Finding the right balance can mean a little extra work, but it can also mean that you're preventing the wide assortment of weight-related health conditions.
Want more nutrition tips for your dog? Check out some of our other nutrition articles:
Dog Nutrition 101
Good Diet, Good Health: Using Nutrition to Prevent Disease in Your Dog
The Most Poisonous Foods for Dogs
Natural Dog Food: Holistic and Organic Dog Food Diets
Raw Food Dog Diet
Grain Free Dog Food: Cut Down on Carbs
What is in My Dog Food?
Finding the Right Food for Your Dog
Vitamins and Supplements: Vital or Superfluous?
The Best Food for Your Dog or Cat