The time with our canines is not long, yet there are ways to make the road longer. Nearly 50% of dogs in this country are overweight or obese, but what is considered overweight? How can you determine if your dog is at an ideal weight? What is a healthy weight for him/her? We can determine this, easy peasy, with the Fist Test.
What is the Fist Test?
This is an easy DIY do-at-home assessment test to determine if your dog is at an ideal weight. This is not meant for aesthetic reasons but rather for motives of health and longevity.
Make a fist with your left hand and run the fingers of your right hand over the knuckles on the top of your fist – this is what the ribs of an underweight dog/cat will feel like.
Open your left hand and run your right forefinger over the meaty part of the knuckles in the palm – this is what the ribs of an overweight dog/cat will feel like.
Once again, make a fist (left hand) and run the fingers of your right hand over the space between the first and second knuckles – this is what the ribs of an ideal weight a dog or cat will feel like.
What do the different stages of weight look like?
Notice how between the ideal and overweight image, in the side view the underbelly goes up in the ideal dog, whereas it is more or less straight across in the image of the overweight dog. This, and a loss in waistline (top-down view), are tell-tale signs that a dog is carrying too much weight for its bones and joints. Many pet parents I’ve spoken with over the years are surprised to learn that their dogs could stand to lose some weight if they no longer had a visible waistline. When a dog is just 5 pounds over ideal, this is equivalent to us being about 25 pounds over our ideal. This is because of how the weight is carried and distributed over the dog’s body compared to a human’s upright posture.
Why should a dog maintain an ideal weight?
There are many reasons to help our dog/s maintain an ideal weight:
Relieves pressure and weight at the joint so that they will be able to walk and stand at an older age.
Relieves excess VAT (visceral adipose tissue) around organs and heart, allowing for better mobility and function into the elder years.
Reduces the tendency for chronic conditions to develop, like diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, organ failure, and more.
You will save money on food and treats!
There is a tendency to love through food and to love through treats. When we acknowledge that a dog’s love is unconditional, the desire to overindulge will hopefully be replaced with expressing love through other satiations. Love and care could be shown by giving a brief massage, TTouch, a good ol’ scratch, throwing the ball, rubbing the pinna of the ear (loads of nerve endings here), or simply breaking up that treat into smaller bits.
Consider that a dog is just as content with a small versus a large treat. Just because a Golden Retriever is 5 times the size of a chihuahua, the former does not need a treat five times the size.