Signs That Your Dog May Be Too Skinny

You want your dog at a healthy weight, neither too fat nor too thin. How do you tell whether your slender dog’s weight is appropriate or if he’s too skinny? Your vet is the best person to make that determination. Obesity is an issue with dogs, just as it is with people. Overweight dogs almost seem normal because the condition is so common, and it is easy to think a dog at a good weight is actually underweight because so many dogs carry extra pounds.

Breed Differentials

Dog breed plays a role when it comes to a healthy weight. Some breeds, such as greyhounds, whippets, and Irish setters, are naturally slender. Breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and basset hounds are prone to obesity. The latter are harder to keep at a healthy weight because they love to eat and don’t need that much exercise.

Keep in mind that dogs with thick coats may appear heavier than they are. For instance, Afghan hounds are among the naturally thin breeds, but people don’t often realize that because of their luxurious coats.

Canine Body Condition Score

A canine body condition score is similar to that of the Body Mass Index (BMI) for humans. The scale runs from 1 to 9. A healthy weight is between 4 and 5. Below that score indicates dogs that are too thin and require extra calories. Dogs above that score are too heavy and need to go on a diet and exercise program.  

A dog with a score of between 4 and 5 has ribs that are easily felt. Viewed from above, the waist is clearly tucked. The same holds true for the abdomen from a side view. If the dog is too thin, his waistline tucks very sharply, and he may appear emaciated.

When are Dogs Too Thin?

Suspect that your dog may be too skinny if he has visible ribs with no palpable fat. While you should be able to feel a dog’s ribs, you should not be able to see them. By the time a dog is severely underweight, his pelvic bones and lower backbones are protruding. When an underweight dog is fed a reasonable diet and continues to lose weight, that often indicates an underlying health problem.

If you think your dog is too thin, call your vet to schedule an examination. Make sure to tell the vet the type and amount of food you feed your pet. Let the vet know if the dog is a picky eater or has unusual eating habits. If the vet concurs that the dog is too thin, blood and other tests can determine whether the animal is unwell. Your vet will advise you on the right diet to get your skinny dog to his ideal weight.

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