Is My Dog too Skinny


Finding a happy medium when it comes to weight can be stressful for responsible owners. They know they don’t want their dog to be overweight to take care of their dog's health (Body Condition Scoring) but it is hard when you are constantly told that your dog is too skinny when you take them for a walk or even at the local dog club.

The worst part is when the dog in question isn't actually too skinny, but their detractors have a skewed perception of 'normal' even if they are trying to be helpful.

I have discussed proper weight and body condition scoring before. Highlighting what is the correct weight for a dog. However, I wanted to cover two more points on the topic. First the common misconception in the community about the correct weight for dogs, and second about why you might want to keep your dogs skinny aka correct weight.

This has been on my mind lately as I recently discovered that one of my own dogs, Franky (a four year old Kelpie), is starting to develop arthritis in one of her wrists. The arthritis has developed following an injury to the wrist Franky had as a puppy. Starting to see signs at such a young age is not ideal, but I identified it early enough to allow me to manage it while keeping Franky happy and active.

Franky loves her agility and obedience and while stopping those activities would be an option to deal with the problem, I don't want to deprive her of two of her favourite activities. And completely stopping these activities will make it harder to keep her well conditioned since she is not one to self exercise.

One of the management techniques that I am using with her to reduce the impact on her wrist is keeping her underweight. When a dog lands from a jump in agility, all of their weight is concentrated on their front legs and by reducing her weight a bit, we reduce the impact on her wrists. 

This coupled with conditioning, keeping her fit and adjustments to her training, will hopefully mean that she can continue to enjoy her favourite sports for a long time to come.

In this case Franky is now quite skinny and I have received a few comments from onlooker about her weight. However, her current weight is a deliberate decision for her health. At this weight she isn't unhealthy and she receives complete nutrition.

In some cases losing weight can be an early sign that something is not quite right. While dogs will lose body fat they will also loose muscle mass. Often it also coincides with dogs losing this weight without their owner actively trying to drop their weight. Or an increase in appetite.

So if you have a skinny dog that has bright eyes, great coat and most importantly, excellent muscle quality and tone let the next person who tells you that your dog is skinny know that you are doing it to ensure your companion lives a long happy life. 

Dr Jaime Jackson