Most dogs deemed to be in proper weight are actually too fat.
If the human audience at Crufts is anything like the rest of England, Europe, and the U.S., then somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of the people attending Crufts are obese.
But the dogs?
The latest charge is that 25% percent of the the dogs at Crufts are obese.
Is that true?
Probably, despite perfectly valid claims by the Kennel Club that the "study" lacked much scientific rigor.
Dr. Alex German, of Liverpool University's School of Veterinary Science, writes in the Veterinary Record:
We found that 80% of pugs, 68% of basset hounds, and 63% of labradors were overweight. When we consider hounds and labradors were originally bred for hunting, bring in fishing haulage, and other fielding work, being overweight can be detrimental to their physiology and overall wellbeing.
So how can you tell if a dog is in proper weight? The back of the hand test is a pretty good one.
When your dog is too fat (and 40% of American dogs are obese!) you can feel a layer of fat over the ribs. If you want to know what a FAT dog feels like, run your fingers over the underside of your knuckles with your hand open, palm up. Some dogs are actually so fat, their flesh feels like the padded base where the thumb meets the palm!
When your dog is the proper weight, you should be able to easily feel the ribs just under the skin, but there should be some muscling on top. To get an idea of what that feels like, run your fingertips over the top of the knuckles of your flattened hand.
When your dog is too thin, you can easily feel the ribs, which will be quite pronounced. On a smooth-coated dog, four or more ribs will be visible even when the dog is not breathing heavily. To get an idea of what a too thin dog feels like, run your fingertips over the knuckles of your fist.
Most dogs should be run a little on the thin side, and most dogs deemed to be in proper weight are actually too fat.
In my experience, veterinarians are part of the problem; they are so used to seeing profoundly obese dogs that they have forgotten what proper weight looks like (if they ever knew) and do not talk with their clients about canine weight when dogs are merely plump and out of tone, and not yet morbidly obese.
If you read dog blogs and books, there is almost no chance your dog is too thin, and a very good chance that your dog is carrying excessive weight which you think is "fine".
In this regard, the normalization of fat dogs follows the normalization of fat people, and the health consequences for both are considerable -- joint stress, heart stress, shortened lifespan, and a less active lifestyle.
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** A Well Fed Dog Is Never Fat