Is My Dog Too Skinny?

Each dog has a unique physical appearance and temperament. Like humans, dogs have fluctuations in energy levels from day to day, as well as slight fluctuations in their weight, on average. Each breed, however, has a standardized guide for weight. During your dog’s annual check-up, your vet will weigh Fido and record his measurements for future reference.

While obesity is a common problem with dogs, it is also possible for dogs to become underweight. If a friend or family member points out that your dog is looking a little slimmer than usual, it is a good idea to take this observation seriously. Before rushing off to the vet, there is a simple method for you to check that your dog has a healthy weight.

How to Check if Your Dog is Underweight

  1. Position yourself so that you are at the rear of your dog. You want to be able to have a view from the top, looking down onto your dog’s body. Doing this allows you to observe the way your dog’s hips sit within the position to the ribcage. We are looking at the dog in terms of the body line. The ratio will vary from breed to breed. However, a dog that falls within the healthy weight range will have hips that gradually narrow as you look along the bodyline from the rib cage. An underweight dog will have a drastic hip bone to rib cage ratio, with a much sharper angle, as opposed to the gradual line.

  1. Now, get a good view of your dog’s abdomen. The best way to observe your dog’s belly is by sitting by his side. We want to see a stomach that has a bit of chub and a muscular tone. If you look at the line of the abdomen and trace it up from the side to the ribcage, a healthy dog will have a gradual, rounded slope upward from the rib cage. Underweight dogs have poor muscle tone and no fat present in the belly area.

  1. Next, try taking a finger down the dog’s spine and feeling around for the vertebrae, all the way down to the pelvic bone. If you are struggling to feel these bones, that’s a good thing. Healthy dogs have a comfortable layer of fat between their skin and bones. Don’t panic if you can feel the bones; as long as the thickness of fat is covering the bones, your dog is likely within the healthy weight range. Skinny dogs have pronounced bones, and when feeling around in this manner, an underweight dog’s pelvic and spinal bones will be very angular and hard to the touch.

  1. Finally, run your hands over each side of your dog’s body. What you are feeling for are the ribs. If your dog is within the healthy weight range, you will be able to feel each rib. The point of difference between a skinny dog and a healthy dog is that the ribs of a healthy dog will not be visible. Run your hands over each side to see the healthy layer of fat covering the ribs correctly. Because this is a visual test, if you have a breed of dog with a long fur, you may need to move the coat with a comb or part it with your fingers over each rib.

Treatment for a Skinny Dog

If you have performed the 4 step process above and you are concerned that your dog may be skinny or underweight, it is essential to take him to the veterinarian. Try not to panic, as weight loss in a dog can vary from dog to dog. It could be as something simple as an incorrect diet or parasites in the gut. Your vet will diagnose the underlying cause and provide you with a treatment plan to get your dog back to a healthy weight.


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