I find it hard to know if my dog's weight is right or not. It's my first dog and I don't know yet what is too thin or just right. He's a Lab and I know they're prone to putting on weight.
Is there a way of telling just by looking at him if he's too big?
Is there anyone I can get to just keep an eye on me without paying the vet for a consultation fee every time?
Alison Logan, vet, says...
Let me start by asking you to contact your veterinary practice to find out if there is a weight clinic, often run by a veterinary nurse and if not free-of-charge then at a reduced price. Indeed, I am sure my practice is not unusual in having scales in the waiting room which you can use to simply weigh your dog and then have the weight entered on his record.
To address your query more fully: it is great that you have appreciated the need to avoid your dog becoming overweight. It is not, as you mention, a question of the actual weight in pounds or kilogrammes but how your dog is carrying the weight. A breed’s bodyweight average is meaningless if your dog is a particularly small or large individual. The weight of a dog who has stopped growing and developing (around fifteen months for a Labbie) can be recorded and provide a quantitative guide to change over time. Photographs will give you a qualitative guide to any change.
Body condition score is a numerical expression of how an individual dog is carrying his weight. The ideal is three out of five, able to feel ribs and a distinct waistline, with five being an obese dog (a footstool!). It does also depend on personal preference – some people like their labbies to carry a little more on the waist than I like and think my labbies could carry a little more.
Do remember that your vet will be happy to advise on bodyweight, exercise and diet at a routine appointment such as the annual health check.
I think all dogs are prone to putting on weight if they are allowed to have all the titbits they would like!