Recently I was reading a post online about whether a person’s dogs were overweight. It can be a sensitive topic to some, but it’s important to know if your dog is or isn’t for their health and well-being. There are many groups, forums, and articles about a fit dog versus an ideal body or an overweight dog.
I have no qualms admitting my dogs have been overweight and I am not in denial about it. If someone knew my dog was overweight, I would honestly appreciate if they told me. That’d be my wake up call to pay better attention to my dogs and change that. And in fact, someone did tell me. A friend told me that Bella was a little chunky and recommended I put her on a green bean diet where I substituted green beans for about 2/3 of her regular kibble. She wasn’t too fond of the veggies, but has since learned to like them. We only did that for awhile until I learned a lot more about portioning, calories in/out, and exercise. Since then we’ve upgraded the quality of food, treats, and Bella is on a few different supplements for her overall health.
It’s super important for an animal not to be overweight and even more so as they get older, because any extra weight can cause undue stress on a dog’s bones and joints. I’ve seen many dogs who are young (4-8) who look ancient simply because they are overweight. And yet, my 13 almost 14 yr old Blue Heeler looks like she is about 6 years old and people are amazed to find out her age because she is in great shape and kept trim. I want to extend her lifespan as long as possible and keeping Bella fit, active, and mobile is very important to me.
Seeing an ever expanding waistline in dogs and humans seems to be more commonplace and we normalize being overweight in ourselves and our dogs. But that comes with a big price tag. With an increase in calories, processed sugary food, and an increase in a sedentary lifestyle, that’s the perfect recipe for gaining weight and if kept up, leading to obesity and many other health problems. We have also seen many dog sports where only half of the team is in extremely good shape (generally the dog). To us, Agility is a team sport and while distance in handling is great, we enjoy running the course together and I aim to be in better shape like my dogs so I can keep up with them in whatever we do.
Some examples include Obie the Doxie and a poor blob of a Heeler. Try googling “overweight dog.” How could you not realize that is happening? I could see the difference between Bella and other dogs who were in better shape and we started doing something about it.
Terra was extremely overweight when I first got her too (no, it was not all fluff-she was a solid block), but now with more exercise and better portion control she is lean, sleek, and beautiful.
And yet, some people react if they see a fit dog and consider the dog too skinny. I posted a picture of Kronos when he was super fit from swimming 1-2 hours every day and someone said he was too skinny and I was clearly not feeding him. His ribs were covered, he had a beautiful tuck from the side, a waistline from above, and he was getting a lot of food for a dog his size twice every day in addition to treats and chews. Now, if his ribs and spine were sharply protruding and you could see every bone in his body, that, to me, is too skinny (that is also called emaciated and a walking skeleton).
How can you tell if your dog is overweight?
A very simple way to tell is if there is a tuck under their belly when you look from the side and if there is a waist from above. If your dog has no differentiation and is a solid block from the side or above, they are overweight and may even be obese.
Here is a chart to help you tell too:
One of our main focuses of our blog is to inspire people to be fit and healthy with their pups and that starts with the food you both eat and extends to how much activity or exercise you get. It’s a problem we’re told to ignore and not bring attention to. And yet it is important to be aware of as the first step to any change is awareness.
I’ve learned I’m overweight because I eat way too much sugar, don’t move around as much as I used to when I played sports, and my body processes accordingly. I’m not big on going the gym persay, but love being active and getting outside. Our next goal/play item is a kayak so we can go on more outdoor water adventures! I’ve learned so much from feeding my pups and getting them fit that now I’ve been applying it to myself as well and paying better attention to the quality of food and portion sizes and even have gotten some supplements for myself (America has literally supersized EVERYTHING! If you start paying attention to serving sizes, you may be amazed at what quantities are considered ‘normal’ or how many calories are in that ‘simple’ burger, shake, and fries from your favorite fast food restaurant-to find that out, try tracking using the app My Fitness Pal). If you think eating healthy is expensive, you really should look at the price tag of that ‘inexpensive’ food and realize that you may be paying the price in your overall health and I have felt the differences based on the different foods. And for anyone who blames an industry saying it is businesses fault, know that businesses only sell what people buy and will thrive or die based on that. The customers have the power with their buying choices to change businesses and the quality of food that is sold. We’ve seen a huge shift in the pet industry to healthier food and treats and it seems like there may be a shift happening in the human world too. Eating better doesn’t have to taste bad-in fact it’s amazing how many delicious things that can be made which taste delicious too. And the difference can be felt in energy levels, clear headedness, and overall vitality.
Instead of saying my dogs eat better than I do or they are in better shape than me, I want to say we both eat excellent and none of us are overweight.