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Is my dog fat or fluffy?

Is my dog fat or fluffy?
Is my dog fat or fluffy?

Is My Dog Fat Or Fluffy? Spotting weight gain in fluffy dogs.

Identifying weight gain becomes challenging when your dog is a walking ball of fluff. Like hiding in a jacket after feasting through a holiday season, fluffy dogs do an excellent job of hiding extra pounds. 

As a fluffy dog owner, the trade-off for enjoying all that adorable fur is the need to closely watch for signs of obesity — and of course, grooming, lots of grooming.

Make these three routines regular to track and identify if your dog is fat or fluffy.

Weigh your fluffy dog regularly

In a perfect world, weighing your dog on a scale will answer if your dog is overweight. But, for mixed breeds, the estimated weight isn’t always perfect. So start now, and always have a reference weight going forward.

The simplest way to weigh your dog at home is in your arms. 

We mostly think of fluffy dogs as small and manageable. If you have a 150-pound Great Pyrenese fluff ball — and aren’t a powerful weight lifter — this step becomes a challenge. Stop by your veterinarian’s office and ask to use their scale.

For lighter dogs, grab your scale and set it on a flat surface to first weigh yourself. Write down or remember your exact weight, then pick up your dog and weigh the two of you combined.

You can then subtract your weight from the combined weight.

For dogs at a healthy weight, keep a regular weight tracking routine of weighing every three to four months. When starting a diet routine, a weekly weigh-in is necessary to verify your dog is losing weight at a healthy rate.

Is my dog overweight? A graphic of the body condition scoring chart showing dogs in too thin, ideal, and too heavy size.
Is my dog overweight? Body scoring chart.

Examine your fluffy dog’s body during bath time.

A body condition chart is a staple in veterinarian offices to show how a healthy dog looks. A visual inspection is easy for short-haired breeds like a Labrador Retriever but tricky for long-hair breeds like Rough Collies.

Thankfully, even the fluffiest dogs shrink to a visible size when wet. Here’s how to examine your dog for weight gain:

Look for a defined taper.

When examining your dog’s waist, first look at its side profile.

A dog’s waistlines should have a pronounced taper on the bottom, and the stomach should not sag lower than the chest or ribs. When looking from above, the sides should have a noticeable taper.

Run your hands over the wet hair to smooth it out and show proof of tapering. Even if your dog’s coat is thick, the shape will still be defined.

Feel for your dog’s ribs.

After a visible inspection, feel for your dog’s ribs. This can be done periodically and doesn’t require bath time. 

A healthy dog should have easily discernible ribs without excess fat covering. You should be able to feel each of their ribs without pressing too deep.

Overweight dogs store fat in the subcutaneous layer directly below the skin. The subcutaneous layer will create a soft cushion over the ribs, making them difficult to discern.

To examine your dog’s ribs, stand over them with your dog facing the same direction. Run both hands from each side of their waist and follow the rib cage line. If you have trouble feeling the rib cage to start, your dog is likely obese.

Follow the rib cage line down to the chest and feel for individual ribs.

Observe your dog’s behaviors.

Dogs, like people, can gain weight easier as they age and begin to move less. It’s essential to be aware of declining energy levels and strain or difficulty exercising, especially in senior dogs.

If you notice your dog has difficulty keeping up with you on walks or is short of breath, these could be signs of obesity.

A healthy dog is always ready to play, so watch if your dog is less eager to fetch their favorite ball or naps more often than usual.

More signs of an overweight or obese dog.

In addition to the physical signs of obesity, A dog’s behavioral signs can inform you of problems.

If your fluffy dog shows the following signs, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian:

  • Slowly rising after sleep
  • Joint pain
  • Trouble jumping on furniture
  • Always hungry
  • Dull coat

Dogs have many causes of weight gain besides overeating and lack of exercise. Identifying early signs can help to diagnose severe conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease.

Final thoughts

Maintaining your dog’s weight is vital for preserving a happy and healthy life.

Here’s how to tell if a fluffy dog is overweight:

  • Weigh your dog regularly
  • Examine their waist for a defined taper
  • Feel for your dog’s ribs
  • Observe for behavior changes

For senior dogs, it’s vital to maintain a healthy weight. As dogs age, added fat begins to settle in the visceral fat — the intra-abdominal area beneath the abdominal wall. This intra-abdominal fat contributes to insulin resistance and obesity-related diseases. 

Always maintain a healthy diet and daily walks. Consider switching to natural healthy snacks for dogs, like fruits and vegetables.

With this game plan, you’ll feel confident your dog is all fluff and no fat.

Did you determine if your dog is fat or fluffy? Share this article to help others, and include a photo of your fluffy pup.

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