Is my dog a healthy weight?


When it comes to your dog, one of the best things you can do to keep them healthy and happy is to maintain a healthy weight. Research has shown that almost half of Australian dogs studied were either overweight or obese [1] and that the average lifespan of an overweight dog can be months (if not years) shorter than a dog that has maintained a healthy weight throughout its lifetime [2]. On the flipside, if a dog is significantly below its ideal weight, this can be a cause for concern too and could be symptomatic of parasites or a more serious underlying medical condition.

So how can you know if your dog is too thin, too heavy or a healthy weight for their structure? It’s a good question but the truth is, determining your dog’s ideal weight is not an exact science and there are a number of factors that come into play including their breed, sex, activity level and even whether or not they have been spayed.

While you can find data out there about typical weight ranges for each breed, given the many factors involved, the best way to manage your dog’s weight is by doing a visual and physical check of your dog’s body and adjusting their diet and portion sizes accordingly. We have provided a handy guide below on how you can check your dog’s body and recommend that you do so every few months.

Is my dog a healthy weight?

There are three main ways you can check whether your dog is the right weight – although you can perform these visually don’t be afraid to use your hands especially for dogs with longer coats or lots of skin. Keep in mind these tests are for adult dogs and will not be appropriate for puppies.

Rib check

Place your two thumbs together on your dog’s backbone and spread your fingers across their ribs. At a healthy weight, you should be able to feel the ribs but they should not be protruding. If you can’t feel them your dog could be carrying excess weight. This check is one of the best ways to assess your dog’s weight, particularly if you have a fluffy dog where the coat makes visual checks difficult.

Profile check

Lower yourself so that you’re level with your dog and can examine them from the side. Your dog’s abdomen (tummy) should be tucked up behind the ribcage and for most breeds, a slight tuck will be visible at a healthy weight. A steep slant suggests that your dog may be underweight whereas a shallow slant or protrusion indicates that your dog may be overweight.

Overhead check

Examine your dog from overhead and identify whether you can see their waist tucked behind the ribs. At a healthy weight, most breeds will have an hourglass figure. If you’re able to see an outline of your dog’s individual ribs or if your dog’s waist is noticeably narrower than their ribcage, this is an indication that your pup is too thin. However, if your dog’s waist line is in line with its ribs or bulges out past them, this suggests that your dog is too heavy.

Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight

Once you have completed the visual and physical check of your dog’s body, you need to adjust their lifestyle accordingly. If your dog is too thin, you should increase the proportion of food they eat gradually. If your dog is too heavy, this could be a result of not enough exercise or overeating. Similar to humans, diet is the most important contributor to weight management and one of the easiest ways to help your dog maintain a healthy weight is by adjusting what and how much they eat – a nutritionally balanced, fresh diet that is served in the right portions for your dog is the first step to change.

A fresh diet made from high quality ingredients and formulated with the right ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat will deliver sustained energy while building and maintaining lean muscle. Additionally, eating food that contains no fillers, preservatives or artificial ingredients means that each calorie that your dog consumes provides them with the greatest nutritional benefit.


To make it easy for you to maintain your dog’s weight at a healthy level, we’ve taken the stress and guesswork out of meal time. The Wholesome Dog recipes are nutritionally balanced and use a proprietary algorithm to customise and pre-portion meals specifically for your dog so that you're always feeding the right amount! We provide healthy food delivered straight to your door to make it as easy as possible for you to feed your dog the real food they deserve - discover your dog’s personalised meal plan today.

Image: Pinterest

[1] McGreevy, PD, Thomson, PC, Pride, C, Fawcett, A, Grassi, T, Jones, B (2005). Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved, Veterinary Record, vol. 156, pp. 695-702.

[2] Kealy RD, Lawler DF, Ballam JM, Mantz SL, Biery DN, Greeley EH, Lust G, Segre M, Smith GK, Stowe HD (2002). Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, vol 220, no. 9, pp. 1315–20.

About the author

Andrew is a certified canine nutritionist with a passion for helping all dogs live longer, healthier and happier lives through proper nutrition, care and owner education. Currently a doting Dad to Daisy, a loveable Golden Retriever. Over the years he has loved and cared for Australian Terriers, Border Collies and a particularly sweet Maltese Shih-Tzu.