An estimated 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight, and that extra weight can have a serious impact on a dog’s health. This healthy dog weight guide will help pet parents gauge their pet’s size for each stage of life.
Impacts of Obesity on Pet Health
A chunky pup may be cute, but that extra weight can reduce his lifespan by up to two years — that’s at least a decade in human years.
Obesity also increases a dog’s risk of major health problems, including:
The line between healthy weight and obesity is much smaller in pets than in people. A few pounds — even just one pound or less in smaller dogs — can make all the difference.
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Breathing problems
- Kidney disease
- Liver problems
Healthy Dog Weight by Age
Just like people, pets have different weight guidelines at different life stages.
Puppies start gaining weight from their first day of life. Smaller dogs gain about 5 ounces a week throughout puppyhood, but they’ll grow faster before the age of 11 weeks. Expect a small breed dog to reach adult weight at 9 to 10 months old. Medium-size dogs’ growth spurts last until they’re 16 weeks old and reach their adult weight at 12 months. Large and giant breeds grow more slowly. Although they gain about 2.5 pounds a week, they may not reach their adult weight until they’re 16 to 18 months old. It’s easy to make weight checks a part of a puppy care routine. Look at the pup and make sure the ribs aren’t visible but the belly doesn’t hang below the chest.
The American Kennel Club publishes a list of standard weights for each recognized breed. Weights range from Chihuahuas (6 pounds or less) to Mastiffs (up to 230 pounds).To gauge the weight of mixed-breed dogs, pet parents can check the weight chart for the dominant breed or ask a vet.The other way to gauge a dog’s weight uses sight and touch. This is how vets determine whether a dog is at a healthy weight. Check that:
The ribs are easy to feel without squeezing, but not clearly visible
The body shape resembles an hourglass, wider at the ribs and with a narrowed waistline in front of the hind legs
The belly slopes upward behind the ribs to meet the hind legs, instead of reaching straight across
Dogs achieve seniority at an average of 9 years old, but the milestone varies by breed. Giant breeds are seniors at 7, while small dogs don’t get there until age 11.Like humans, many older dogs slow down with age, especially if they have pain from arthritis. Lower activity levels may lead to weight gain, so pet parents should keep an eye on their senior dogs’ weight.The same touch-and-look metrics also work on senior dogs. Pet parents should check for weight gain as well as loss, since some health problems in older dogs can impact appetite.
Support for Pet Weight Questions
For more answers to dog health questions, including ones about dog diet and weight, chat with a Fuzzy vet today as part of Fuzzy’s 24/7 Live Vet Chat. Members of the Fuzzy Vet Team can help pet parents to determine whether their pet is too big, too small, or just right.