How to Tell If a Dog Is Too Skinny?

A quick weight loss can indicate ill health in dogs.
i Dog image by Jan Zajc from

Being overweight or obese poses significant health threats to your dog, but being underweight is not healthy either. A quick body check can determine if your dog is too thin. If your dog seems too skinny to you, regardless of what the body check indicates, consult your veterinarian.

Step 1

Stand behind your dog and look down toward his body. If your dog is of healthy weight, examined from above, his waist will curve in gradually from his ribcage. Underweight dogs appear emaciated, with dramatic waist lines.

Step 2

Move to your dog's side and note the appearance of his abdomen. If your dog is healthy, his abdomen will slope gradually upward from his ribcage, and his overall appearance will be muscular. A skinny dog will have no noticeable body fat, and his abdomen will appear sharply tucked.

Step 3

Run your fingers down your dog's spine and then feel for his pelvic bone. Prominent vertebrae and pelvic bones indicate your dog is underweight. Ideally, you'll be able to easily find the location of your dog's bones, but a thin layer of fat should offer some padding between the bones and skin.

Step 4

Place your hands on either side of his body, on his ribs. On a dog of normal weight, you can feel each individual rib, but you can't see them. On thick-coated dogs, part the fur as necessary to get an accurate impression. If you can see the ribs, your dog has insufficient fat -- he is too skinny.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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