What is a healthy dog weight?
If this is the question you’re asking as you look at your own dog, you might be trying to determine whether your canine companion is actually overweight. This will vary by breed size and age.
For many pet owners, a healthy dog weight is an important issue. According the 2015 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) Pet Obesity Survey, approximately 53.8% of U.S. dogs veterinarians see were overweight or obese.
The definition of average dog weight varies by breed. Size-related characteristics aside, some breeds, including Cocker Spaniels, Dalmatians, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs and Rottweilers, are inherently at greater risk for becoming overweight. Of these breeds, Shetland Sheepdogs and Golden Retrievers are more prone to becoming obese. Other breeds with a reported tendency toward obesity include Basset Hounds and Beagles.
Given different breed body types, determining an average dog weight, or how much extra weight makes a dog obese, can be difficult. For example, an excess pound on a Pomeranian is equal to 21 to 22 pounds on a 5’4” woman; whereas that same excess pound on a female Labrador Retriever is equal to 1.5-2 pounds on a 5’4” woman.
This is where a body condition score (BCS) system can be useful. BCS is the most widely well-known and accepted system of measuring body condition, which can also have implications for a healthy dog. A nine-point BCS system, developed by Purina®, features illustrations as well as descriptions of canine body condition types, to help veterinary professionals and pet owners make individual determinations. Using the Purina Pro Plan Body Condition Score Tool, you can reference a scale ranging from one (too thin) to nine (too heavy) to assess your dog’s body condition. A score of four or five denotes ideal body condition. A dog with a score of five is described as: Ribs palpable, without excess fat covering. Waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from side.
What if your pet’s results are on the “heavy” side of the scale, which could mean they are not in the healthy dog weight range? Your next step should be a discussion with your veterinarian about ways to help your dog reach a healthy weight.
To help you with this goal, you’ll find that there are a number of weight-loss diets available. One of these is a new system from Purina®, called Pro Plan® Simply FitTM, which offers a breakthrough approach to calorie reduction. While traditional weight-loss method simply cuts your dog’s daily caloric input, an approach known as Continuous Calorie Restriction (CCR), new Pro Plan Simply FitTM uses a patented Intermittent Calorie Restriction (ICR) system that varies calorie intake over time. This is done through a weekly alternating feeding schedule using two foods—one with a maintenance calorie amount and one with 25% fewer calories.
With an ICR diet, your dog gets the same amount of food in his bowl at every meal—only the calorie count alternates. To help him stay satisfied while reducing calories and supporting continuously active metabolism, to help him lose body fat, keep lean muscle mass and achieve an ideal body condition.
If you think an ICR diet might be a valuable part of a weight-loss plan to help your pet to reach a more fit average dog weight, discuss with your veterinarian how you need to proceed and when you should expect to see progress in terms of weight loss results. It’s a positive step you can take right now, to help your dog enjoy better health for life.
Laflamme, Dottie. “Development and Validation of a Body Condition Score System for Dogs.” Canine Practice 22 No. 4 (1997): 10-15. Print.
“Intermittent Caloric Restriction (ICR) As An Effective Means To Manage Obesity.” Purina Institute Scientific Review.
“With overweight pets, there’s more to love.” Purina Life Span Study brochure.
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention