Are you worried that your beloved pup may be too fat or too skinny for his breed and age? You have a reason to be. After all, an overweight or underweight dog can be a sign that your pet has an underlying health problem.

Just like humans, your four-legged pal will experience a slight decrease and increase in weight throughout his life. But if it becomes too much and your pup isn’t brought back to a healthy weight, he will be at risk of developing health issues in the future.

Good thing, there’s a simple way to determine whether your pet is at a healthy weight. A Dubai pet food company shares the following steps to help you verify if your pup is overweight, underweight, or just right.

Step 1 – Observe your dog’s physique from the side

A dog with a healthy weight should have his tummy tuck up from his chest. Also, it should not be uneven or hang below the chest. If you can easily see your pup’s ribs, he is most likely underweight.

In some breeds such as Italian Greyhounds and Whippets, the dog’s ribs will show even at a normal weight. But when it comes to breeds with heavy coats, you’ll need to scrutinize closer as you probably won’t see the ribs even if the dog is underweight. Follow the next steps carefully for a complete assessment.

Step 2 – Examine your dog’s physique from above

As you stand over your dog and look down. You should see your pup with a visibly tucked-in waist, but his hip bones shouldn’t be protruding too severely. If your canine pal looks like a barrel, a beach ball, or a sausage with legs, he’s most likely overweight.

If you notice that your dog’s hips are protruding sharply, then he’s underweight. A clear indication that your dog has a good weight is when your pet has a gentle curve inward at the waist when examined from above.

Step 3 – Touch your dog’s sides to feel the ribs

This step is crucial for dogs with heavy coats, whose fur often hides weight issues. As you run your hands over your dog’s sides, make sure he is standing upright. If you feel no mark that your dog has a rib cage, he’s probably overweight.

For ribs that feel like they have a slight padding, like a light blanket covering your dog, it’s a sign that he’s sporting the right weight. However, if the ribs are quite prominent and feel like they’re covered only with a thin layer of skin, it’s most likely that your pup is underweight.

Step 4 – Touch your dog’s back to feel the spine

Do the same test you did on step 3 by feeling your dog’s spine. As you run your hands over, you should feel the bones, and again, they shouldn’t be protruding. If you feel no bones, or they seem buried under the fat, your dog may be overweight.

A sharp spine with little to no flesh on top of the individual vertebrae indicates that the dog is underweight.

What to do if your pet is underweight or overweight?

The first thing you have to do is to determine whether there’s any reason why your pup is losing or gaining weight. Have you been quite generous when giving treats, or have you missed out on dog walks? If there’s an apparent reason for the weight change, you may be able to correct it on your own by returning your pet’s diet to normal.

If your pet has become heavier, try to switch to high-quality dog food but do so gradually. Also, avoid free-feeding and try to regulate your pup’s food intake. When still in doubt about what to do or you notice any other abnormalities, don’t hesitate to consult your vet about it.

The vet will be able to run a thorough check-up to examine any problems and give you the right advice on what to feed your canine pal. Never neglect an underweight or overweight dog as he can suffer the same consequences and risks as humans.


Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.