WEIGHT MANAGEMENT IN DOGS
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be very difficult to know the perfect weight for each type of individual dog or breed. Underfeeding and overfeeding your dog could lead to them being skinny or obese and could have devastating consequences on their health. A total of 30%-60% of household dogs are estimated to be overweight . Dogs need a balance of nutrients and energy in their diet and a good amount of exercise to remain fit and healthy, but achieving that balance is not always as simple. Understanding whether your adult dog is of a healthy weight is crucial to then being able to implement ways to manage that ideal weight.
DOG BREEDS BY WEIGHT
Firstly, it is important to have an idea of the general weight range of your dog breed. Although individual dogs may not always fit the weight range, it will help you understand whether or not you may need to consider reducing or increasing the meal sizes of your dog. The table provides a list of dog breeds and their expected adult weight ranges. For a more comprehensive list please see here.
The expected weight ranges of mix-bred dogs are highly variable. The mix-bred dog could grow to be much smaller than its parents, heavier than its parents, or fall anywhere between their weight ranges. However, using adult weight ranges is not a guaranteed method of knowing whether your dog is at a healthy weight. The next method, if used properly, can provide you with a more direct way of gauging whether your dog is of a healthy or ideal weight.
Adult weight ranges of different dog breeds
|Breed||Adult Mate Weight||Adult Female Weight|
|Entlebucher Mountain Dogs||55-65 pounds||55-65 pounds|
|Finnish Lapphunds||33-53 pounds||33-53 pounds|
|Finnish Spitz||25-33 pounds||20-28 pounds|
|Fox Terriers (Smooth)||18 pounds in show condition||16 pounds in show condition|
|Fox Terriers (Wire)||18 pounds in show condition||16 pounds in show condition|
|French Bulldogs||Under 28 pounds||Under 28 pounds|
|German Pinschers||25-45 pounds||25-45 pounds|
|German Shepherd Dogs||65-90 pounds||50-70 pounds|
|Giant Schnauzers||60-85 pounds||55-75 pounds|
|Glen of Imaal Terriers||32-40 pounds||32-40 pounds|
|Great Danes||140-175 pounds||110-140 pounds|
|Great Pyrenees||100 pounds & up||85 pounds & up|
|Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs||115-140 pounds||85-110 pounds|
|Greyhounds||65-70 pounds||60-65 pounds|
|Harriers||45-60 pounds||45-60 pounds|
|Havanese||7-13 pounds||7-13 pounds|
|Ibizan Hounds||50 pounds||45 pounds
BODY CONDITION SCORING
Body condition scoring is a system developed by veterinarians to assess if animals are of the correct weight. Dogs come in different shapes and sizes, so the body condition scoring mainly involves observing and feeling the ribs, waist and referring to the body condition guideline chart, like the one below in figure 1. The chart contains pictures and descriptions to help you come to a conclusion about your dog’s weight. A typical body condition chart for a dog will have scores with descriptions from 1 to 9, 1-3 for a dog that is too thin or under ideal weight, 4-5 for the ideal weight and 6-9 for a dog that is too heavy or over ideal. An animal that is too thin or under ideal will have ribs, lower spine, and pelvis, all easily visible, among other indications. A dog that is too heavy or over ideal will be overweight with a noticeable fat layer on the ribs, among other indications. Having a printed or electronic colour copy of a body condition chart on hand will prove very helpful. This is the most accurate way of identifying whether you dog’s weight is alright or not. A PDF version of a body condition chart for dogs can be found by using this link.
TIPS FOR WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Now that you know how to determine whether your dog is overweight or not by using the body condition chart, here are a few tips for keeping your dog at the ideal, healthy weight.
VISIT YOUR VET
A veterinary assessment should be conducted if you believe that your dog may be underweight or overweight. Some diseases can affect your dog’s weight. Your vet may check for any underlying medical conditions and guide you accordingly. They may also guide you on how to properly feed your dog or on what changes you should make to your dog’s diet. It is wise to take your dog to the vet for a general check-up at least once a year if possible.
MEASURE DAILY MEALS
Many pet owners simply fill up their dog bowls, with no idea whether they are feeding them too much or too little. According to the “Association for Pet Obesity Prevention  , adding 10 extra kibbles to a dog or cat’s diet per day could result in them gaining a pound of extra weight within a single year. It is very important to browse through the manufacturer’s feeding guidelines on your dog food product.
You should use these guidelines for a few weeks (2-3 weeks) and observe whether your dog is losing, gaining, or maintaining the same weight. You can then adjust its meals as you see fit, by adding more food or reducing the recommended amount until your dog is at a healthy-looking weight. Weighing and recording this ideal meal portion will help you to keep things consistent.
Too many pet treats can provide excess energy that your dog may not need. Reducing the quantity of treats given to your dog will help it to lose weight. Choose low-calorie, low-sugar treats, that provide a health benefit. Treats such as Salmon, blueberry, carrots, and sweet potato are excellent choices. Try to reduce or stop feeding high-calorie table scraps to your dog.
GOOD RECORD KEEPING
Recording daily exercise times, diet type and weight, and weekly dog weight will help you to assess your progress. This will help you to determine whether your current diet is working or not and whether alternate actions are needed. Don’t expect perfection from your weight loss or weight gain plan on the first attempt.
Exercise is needed to keep your dog healthy, active, and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise helps to burn excess calories from food. Less active dogs will use fewer calories and may be more likely to eat more because of boredom or stress . Take a 10 -15 minutes walk with your dog at least every other day. Its especially important in obese dogs, although you need to be cautious not to overexert them. Some breeds which are prone to obesity are the Scottish Terrier, Dachshunds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Cairn Terrier. Teaching your dog how to “fetch” can be quite useful also. Providing them with doggy toys can help to keep them active and distracted.
You need to know whether your dog’s current weight is healthy or not in order to begin the process of managing it properly. This is done by referring to the Body Condition Score Chart. You can then take steps pertaining to diet and exercise until you find the right balance for your dog. It may take a few tries but in the end it is worth it.
 The Kennel Club., “Information Guide: Managing Your Dog’s Weight,” 17 April 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/770255/managing_your_dogs_weight.pdf.
 American Kennel Club Staff. , “Breed Weight Chart,” 11 May 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/breed-weight-chart/. [Accessed 17 April 2019].
 W. S. A. V. Association, “Body Condition Score Dog,” 2013. [Online]. Available: https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Arpita-and-Emma-editorial/Body-Condition-Score-Dog.pdf. [Accessed 18 April 2019].
 A. F. P. O. Prevention., “PET OBESITY GENERAL INFORMATION INFOGRAPHICS,” 24 April 2018. [Online]. Available: https://petobesityprevention.org. [Accessed 16 April 2019].
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