Saturday, July 09, 2016

Knuckles as Weight Gauge

How can you tell if your dog is too fat, too thin, or just right?

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 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 fat 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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trust me it's not because (as a vet) I don't harp, beg, explain, cajole and plead with owners. It's that they are in denial (no it's not just a river in Egypt), and have multiple excuses for why "he's not fat, he's fluffy". Less food, more exercise. (Applies to most of the owners as well.)