How Heavy Should My Dog Be: Knowing When Your Dog is Under or Overweight
Just like humans, your dog’s weight is a key indicator of its health. But understanding the factors that go into your pet’s ideal size can be tricky. Everything from breed, age, and even fur type contributes to your dog’s weight on the scale. That’s why simply comparing your dog to a friend’s won’t give you the full scope of health insights you need.
Below, XDOG experts dive into everything you need to know to answer the question, “how heavy should my dog be?”
The Importance of Your Dog’s Weight
Dogs that are under or overweight can experience serious health effects. You might notice some immediately, but many are underlying conditions that can result in long-term health problems.
If your dog is underweight, it is likely due to either under-feeding or an underlying health condition. These conditions might include:
- Gastrointestinal problems, including parasites
- Kidney or liver disease
- Cushing’s disease
It is important to bring your dog to the vet to determine whether any of these conditions are present. Otherwise, you can move forward with a new diet plan to increase weight. We will talk more about how you can do so in the last section.
Obesity in dogs is quite common and just as dangerous as it is for humans. Like people, a dog’s exercise level and food intake determine their weight, but sometimes these factors fluctuate. As they get older and move around less, their weight might increase.
Dog obesity can lead to:
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Trouble breathing
- Bone and joint pain
This is why it is important to learn how heavy your dog should be because it can directly relate to their health, lifespan, and happiness.
Factors In Understanding How Heavy Your Dog Should Be
There are a lot of factors to consider when determining how much your dog should weigh.
- Age: Fully grown adult dogs are much different than puppies. Depending on your dog’s age, its weight will be factored differently.
- Breed: Every breed varies greatly in size and shape. A german shepherd will always need to weigh more than a chihuahua. Learning and researching your dog’s specific breed can help you find a more accurate weight target.
- Activity level: Athletic dogs have more muscles that are denser (and heavier) than fat. A healthier, active dog might weigh more than one who is inactive and overweight. Activity level also plays a part in determining how much to feed your dog; the more active they are, the more calories they burn.
- Underlying health conditions: Some common health conditions can cause a dog to stay under or over its standard weight category naturally. Be sure to seek a vet if you think your dog might have any health problems.
- Medications: If your dog is on any medication, it might cause them to gain or lose weight.
How Do I Determine if My Dog is Under or Overweight?
Essentially, there is a lot more than just the number on the scale when it comes to your dog’s weight. So, how can you measure how heavy your dog should be?
First, determine the average weight categories for your dog’s age and breed by consulting a weight chart from a reputable organization like the American Kennel Club (AKC). This is just a starting point to see where your dog measures.
Next, evaluate their weight by understanding how it is distributed across their body. Examine their midsection and compare your results with the list below:
- Underweight: Concave stomach and visibly protruding spine and hip bones.
- Muscular: Rib cage is visible, and stomach is flat.
- Healthy: No visible bones, and you can feel ribs with a light touch.
- Overweight: You cannot feel bones by touch, and the waist does not dip in.
- Obese: Large stomach and increased mass around the sternum and hind region.
When evaluating, consider that all dogs carry different types of weight, whether it be muscle mass, fat, bones, or even their fur. Some dogs might be heavier from their lean muscle mass, while others may look big but weigh less due to a voluminous coat.
Improving Your Dog’s Health and Weight
Now that you’ve determined your dog’s weight category and answered the question, “how heavy should my dog be?” it’s time to take the next steps. Before making any dietary changes, ask your vet to ensure that your dog is on the right path.
Helping Your Dog Gain Weight
Helping your dog gain the right type of weight can be tricky. Simply increasing their meals won’t build muscle mass and could even result in unhealthy fat. Consider adding a supplement to your dog’s diet to increase their protein intake.
A great option is Formula Mass, the best weight gainer for dogs. When increasing your dog’s protein, choose a high-quality brand with nutritious ingredients. Also, continue to give your dog enough exercise.
Helping Your Dog Lose Weight
If your dog weighs a bit too much and has a lot of visible fat, there are two ways to cut down on fat in a healthy way while increasing muscle.
- Exercise: Take your dog on walks, bring it to the park, toss the ball, bring them along on your errands, or do anything else you can to increase their daily activity levels.
- Diet: Losing weight for dogs doesn’t always mean decreasing food. Consider the quality of ingredients your current dog food brand offers and what nutrients your dog might be missing. And, avoid overfeeding,
How Heavy Should My Dog Be?
A lot goes into understanding how heavy your dog should be. Knowing if they are under or overweight and making a plan to improve is key to ensuring a long, healthy life for your pet.
Sometimes though, changing a dog’s diet can be very hard, especially when it comes to decreasing intake. For more tips, learn about how to deal with dog breeds that are obsessed with food.
XDOG gives dog owners the tools they need to help their pets live long and happy lives through fitness, nutrition, and education. Explore our selection of foods and supplements to maintain your dog’s healthy weight.