As dog lovers, we want to do everything possible to provide our pups with the best life ever. And sometimes, that means spoiling our dogs with all sorts of treats, chews, and table scraps. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. However, I do believe that moderation is key.

I’ve gone to far too many consults where I’ve noticed a dog I’m working with is carrying way more weight than he should be. While some people think it’s cute to have a pudgy pup, excess fat can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health and well-being. So, how dangerous is it?

Canine Obesity: Is My Dog’s Weight Damaging His Health?

Our dogs may look adorable when they’re on the heavy side. But, dogs who are obese are far more likely to develop serious health problems than those who are lean.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the number of overweight dogs is increasing at an alarming rate each year.

In fact, in 2017, 56% of dogs were classified as obese! That’s essentially one in every two dogs.

What’s worse is most dog lovers don’t realize how the excess weight is affecting their furry best friend so they don’t try to help their dog lose weight.

Often dog owners also don’t realize that their dog has gained the weight—especially when the weight gain is very gradual.

This is why it’s so important to keep a close eye on your dog. Catching a dog’s weight gain early will significantly help you get it back under control in order to prevent dangerous diseases and other health issues.

Chances are, if you’re reading this right now, you are worried about your dog’s weight. The good news is that you’re in the right place! And, I’m going to share some steps you can take to determine if your dog is dangerously obese or not.

If you’re not sure if your dog is overweight, the first step is to bring your dog to the veterinarian to step on the doggy scale. Your vet will review her charts and check to see if the weight gain is alarmingly higher than your dog’s last visit. Your veterinarian can also let you know if your dog is overweight based on the “body condition scale”. The body condition scale is a hands-on technique that helps measure the health of your dog.

If you can’t take a trip to the vet, you can try the “rib check” at home.

On a healthy dog, you’re able to feel the ribs under a thin layer of skin. If you need to push into your dog to feel her ribs, there’s a good chance she’s overweight.

After you have felt for your dog’s ribs, it’s important to get a side view. Is your dog’s belly sagging toward the floor? If so, this is another sign your dog may be overweight. Dogs with a healthy weight generally have a taper to their stomach. The last way you can check is by standing over your dog. Your dog should have a silhouette like an hourglass. If your dog appears to be rounded from the overhead view, he may be overweight.

If or when you do notice your dog is overweight, you should not immediately place your dog on a diet.

The reason: Weight gain often indicates that your dog may have an underlying medical condition. If you notice your dog is gaining weight, it’s best to take him to a veterinarian who can run blood tests to check for abnormalities. Conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease could be the reason your dog is obese, and a diet alone won’t fix the weight gain. If your dog does check out normal at the vet, then it’s a good time to put your dog on a diet.

Be sure to ask your vet how much your dog should be eating and what types of food he should be given to lose the excess pounds.