October is Pet Obesity Awareness month and the reason this campaign started was the growing epidemic of overweight and obese pets. Just like humans, pets live their best lives when they are at a healthy weight. Given the overwhelming obesity statistics of dogs in North America, it is so important to make you and your family knowledgeable about what to do to prevent your dog from becoming overweight or if they already have the ‘chonky’ status, how you can help them get to a healthier weight. The first step may be as simple as correctly determining the weight of your dog.
Weighing your dog can be done at home by many dog owners depending on the size of your pooch. For all breeds, a digital scale is most accurate, especially if you are planning on doing regular weigh-ins for a dog that may need to lose a few ounces or pounds. For small breed dogs that are cooperative, a regular home weigh scale can be used, after the scale has been ‘tared’ or zeroed. To ‘tare’ a scale means to ‘zero’ out anything that may be on the scale (i.e. paper plate, paper towel, bowl, etc). This is usually done when some device, like a bowl or piece of paper, needs to be on the scale between measurements. Sometimes this is to keep the scale base clean, or to keep substances from running over the scale and thus not be weighed (ie powders, liquids). In the case of a pooch, you may want to put a piece of paper, or even a small face cloth, to help your pup stay on the flat, sometimes cold, slippery surface.
Once you see that the scale is ‘zeroed’, you can put your pup on it. Hopefully they will be still long enough to get a good read of the number. If not, measure them three times and make sure the measurements are very close in range (for example: 12.6, 12.4. 12.5 lbs). If needed you may have to take an average of the three measurements.
If your dog is not cooperative, you may need to do the ‘doggy duo’ method! Weigh yourself on the scale. Then grab your pup and weigh the both of you together. Afterwards, subtract your weight from the ‘duo’ weight (measurement of you and your pup). That number will be how much your pup weighs.
You can turn this into a snuggle game and may help you get in the habit of weighing your pup if they need a weight management plan. Rather than giving them a treat for good behavior on the scale, give them lots of hugs, kisses and maybe some play time afterwards. This will be positive reinforcement of their good behavior on the scale and they will start to look forward to this routine!!
For medium to large breed sized dogs that are just too heavy to pick up, its best to book regular weigh in visits at your family veterinarian. They have the appropriate, accurate walk-on scales that make weighing the bigger pooches easy and hassle free. Again, reward them with lots of hugs and kisses instead of treats.