Losing their ‘extra winter insulation’ is an accomplishment, but when dogs lose weight unintentionally, there is reason for concern. As dogs lose weight, they may appear thin in the face, their ribs might be more prominent, and their hip bones might stick out more. However, weight loss may be less noticeable on a larger, overweight dog. It’s important to be familiar with what your dog’s normal body condition is, so that any drastic changes in weight will be noticeable to you.
Weight loss of more than 10% is considered clinically significant by your veterinarian.
- For example, if you have a 25 kg (55 lb) Boxer, your veterinarian would be concerned if they had lost 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) or more without a goal of weight loss.
While 2.5 kg may not seem like much weight lost, it’s important to remember that dogs are different anatomically than humans, and we weigh much more than they do. Note that in small dogs, they only have to lose a bit of weight for veterinarians to be concerned.
- For example, a 2.3 kg (5 lb) Chihuahua would have to lose only 0.23 kg or 230 g (0.5 lb) to be a cause for concern.
Pro Tip: Contact your veterinarian if your dog loses 10% or more of their body weight, as this is considered clinically significant.
In an ideal body condition, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs through a thin fat covering. If you can feel their ribs prominently without a fat covering, or if there is minimal tissue between their ribs and they feel bony, this is a sign that your dog is too thin.
Your dog should have a visible waist, but if their hip bones jut out, your dog is probably underweight. If any of these changes happen, especially if they happen suddenly, it’s important to investigate what might be going on. One way to do this is to refer to the Body Condition Score scale, an easy way to approximate your dog’s condition and prevent obesity.