Telling someone their dog is fat is a tricky business.

I knew a dog that was like a barrel. His family filled him with love, but also with food. Lara, a Labrador retriever, died at home while her guardians looked at her, believing that her peace of mind was due to heat and sleep. 

The adorable couple who cared for the dog for more than 10 years, said they could not find an explanation for her death. According to them, the dog was as healthy as an “apple” and disease-free. Her bones were strong, she didn’t even have osteoarthritis, like many dogs her age, and she was totally happy. 

But the reality is that Lara was obese.

How to know if a dog is in its weight?

The rule to know if a dog is in its weight is very simple.

  • If you exceed your ideal weight by 10%, you are overweight. This means that a 10 kilo dog will be overweight if he weighs 11 kilos.
  • If you exceed your ideal weight by 20% or more, you are obese. This means that a 10 kilo dog will be obese if he weighs 12 kilos or more.

Although a couple of extra kilos seems like a lot to us, on the dog scale, it can be a lot.

How to calculate the ideal weight of my dog?

Dog morphotypes are very varied. But to calculate the ideal figure, as a general rule, two images are taken:

  1. The dog’s profile: Rib markings will not be visible to the naked eye. If they will be palpable to the touch without squeezing or making much effort.
  2. The overhead view or from above the dog’s body: There will be a visible narrowing at the waist.

If your dog does not comply with this figure, start subtracting a little food a day until it reaches it. His weight at that time will be the ideal.

Behavioral problems related to being overweight

That a dog is fat does not imply that it will behave inappropriately. 

However, being overweight is related to a series of difficulties in dogs, which can end up influencing behavioral problems .

3 reasons for being overweight that can cause behavior problems in dogs:

1. Difficulties to be understood: Dogs communicate through smells, sounds, gestures and movements. The fact of not being able to move freely affects the interpretation of language  that other dogs will make. This can cause misunderstandings. 

Misunderstandings in communication are not due exclusively to fatness. Dogs that have undergone mutilations, as is common in ear or tail cropping, may suffer from this misinterpretation by others.

2. Insecurity: An overweight dog will feel less agile and less capable. Being overweight directly affects self-esteem. This can lead to behavior problems associated with a lack of self-confidence and autonomy. For example, the anxiety  and fear that they feel like when we leave the dog alone at home. This type of insecurity also appears in older dogs who, as they turn older, feel less secure.

3. Stress: It is very likely that if our dog is fat it is because we are neglecting his needs for exercise and walking. This means that your dog does not spend the energy that he needs and therefore he has more stress .

What to do when your dog is fat?

1. Improve the diet: Take good care of the amount of calories you give per day. If you go too far and give him more than you consume, he will gain weight. If you give additional treats or snacks, make sure that they do not have more than 2% fat in their composition and also regulate the amount of the daily food dose to compensate.

2. Increase the amount of exercise: and I don’t mean just going for a walk. Mental exercise is important to burn calories. Also, your dog will eat more slowly if he does it, for example, through an interactive toy or as a reward by playing games and basic obedience exercises with you. You cannot imagine the amount of energy that the brain spends at full capacity!