Dogs are called obese if their weight is more than 15% above their ideal weight. Obesity is a high risk factor. It increases the probability of certain diseases and symptoms and decreases the animal’s life expectancy.


Urgency level 2


Danger level 2


Apart from the physical properties of obese dogs that can be looked up in our diagnosis and therapy sections, there are other symptoms that an obese animal shows. The animal fatigues faster than normal weight dogs and rests and sleeps more. An obese dogs often shows shortness of breath, is lethargic and its movements are clumsy. Obesity is a risk factor that is serious. It can reduce the life expectancy of your dog in comparison with normal weight animals and it increases the probability for certain diseases such as diseases of the locomotor system or diabetes mellitus. Obese dogs are also often lacking in physical activity, which weakens the whole organism: thus, obesity makes dogs more likely to contract an infectious disease. Severe cases of obesity entail the risk of building excess fat around the internal organs. This so-called “visceral fat” is particularly symptomatic around the liver. Visceral/organ fat can damage the liver tissue and large parts of the organ may become damaged and stop it from functioning. In addition, excess fat may disrupt the metabolism and cardiovascular system of the dog.


Just like humans, animals gain weight if they intake more energy than they use up on a daily basis. If this happens over an extended period of time, the animal reduces their physical activity and can’t return to their normal weight anymore. Furthermore some breeds are more prone to obesity than others. Among those breeds are Labradors, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels and Basset hounds. Besides excessive feeding and breed disposition obesity can be the consequence of a disease (metabolic diseases or hormonal diseases) or of castration, which changes the animal’s hormone balance. Older animals also have a tendency to gain weight since they become limited in their physical abilities.


Your dog is obese if you palpate (touch) the animal’s ribs and feel a thick layer of fat over their rib cage. When viewing your dog from above, in normal weight animals the area between chest and hind legs is slimmer than the chest and a waistline is visible. If this is not the case your dog is obese. To reduce the weight of your dog there are several possible actions which are discussed in the article on obesity in the advice section below.

Emergency measures

Animals can be obese without showing the above mentioned symptoms. If you are interested in the health of your dog avoid obesity or try to reduce its weight. If symptoms like lethargy or labored breathing occur, consult a veterinarian. If the breathing problems are severe immediately go and see the vet.

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