I Can See My Dog’s Ribs

My Skinny Boy, See his Ribs?

It’s true!  I can!  And, I am proud that I can see and count his ribs!

My girlies is fluffy, so I can’t see hers, but she is still in the same great shape!

I get chastised often, when I take them out.

People think that a happy, healthy dog should be fat.

But, a fat dog is far from healthy!

A fat person is far from healthy!

Heck, I wish you could count my ribs, but I am not as easily amused or regimented as my dogs are!

My Dogs are Athletes

My dogs are athletes in the purest sense of the term.

They compete in Agility, Dock Diving, Obedience, Rally, Carting and Protection Sports.

And, because I do so much with them; they need to be in top athletic shape.

Let’s Go Back to Me

I am sure some of you are fuming and wishing you could put me on a diet.

I agree with you, I wish you could too.

I used to run 13 miles a day, and do P90X and sometimes I would bike as well.

Unfortunately I fell out of those habits after one of my dogs died and I went through a bout of depression.

I can’t quite find the happiness to get started again.

But, I was the healthiest I had ever been and was training for a half marathon and dreaming of running a real marathon.

You see, real athletes can’t really be successful (most of them) and be overweight.

When I start again, I won’t be able to run fast or far (yes, I just bought some new shoes).

It will take me a while to get back to where I was.

But, if I was to try and run 10 miles tomorrow; I would likely hurt myself badly.

As a human, I know my restrictions and abilities and won’t push myself too far.

But Dogs…

Although you can't see his ribs when he is laying down, you can still see his waist and no fat!

Although you can’t see his ribs when he is laying down, you can still see his waist and no fat!

But dogs want to be with us, they want to please us.

And, unfortunately over the years, I have seen people kill their overweight dogs with too much exercise.

Being overweight is unhealthy for everyone.

It is hard on your joints, and your heart.

There is a colossal number of dogs in pain right now, across our world, because they are overweight.

Many of them are morbidly obese.

Just getting up off of the floor hurts and can cause them not only pain, but also injury.

Hip dysplasia, elbow disease, degenerative back problems, blown knees and shoulder pain are just some of the pain associated with being an overweight dog.

But all of those things can lead to an earlier death.

I personally want all the time I can get with my furry kids.

And, I want them to have quality of life.

They love running, jumping, running agility, competing in dock diving, chasing each other, chasing a ball, doing lure chasing, engaging in bite and protection sports.

My dogs don’t want to be indoor doggy zombies for more on that click here

It would kill me to watch them struggle in pain just to get up off of the ground.

And, if I had an overweight dog, I would be worried about them hurting themselves just from chasing a ball!

One Thing

Not all dogs are built the same!

It is natural and normal to easily see the ribs of a Greyhound or Whippet.

A bigger framed dog like a Bull Mastiff can be in great shape without easily being able to see ribs.

But, if lightly pressed, ribs should be fairly easily felt.

I don’t want to see a dog’s back bone protruding through his skin, but I also don’t want to see a dog that has no waist and rolls of skin down his back and legs.

The truth is the thinner we are (within reason) the healthier we all are and the same goes for your best furry dog friend.


To put your dog on a safe diet, it is always best to seek advice from your vet first.

Dogs, like people, can suffer from thyroid disorders and other problems that can make weight loss difficult.

Then measure what you are feeding your dog and cut back by 1/4 of it’s volume at first.

Add exercise

And, if your dog is still hungry add fresh or frozen green beans (not canned they have too much salt).  Green beans are low in sugar (carrots are HIGH in sugar for dogs!) and but will help them feel full!

What do you think?

Post pictures of your healthy dog!

Start Calming Down Your Over Excited Dogs Today!

Your First Lesson’s FREE:

Sign up below and we’ll email you your first “Training For Calm” lesson to your inbox in the next 5 minutes.


  1. Paul F Davis says:

    good article


  2. deb says:

    When seeking a vets advice I would recommend requesting a full blood test. My vet kept saying to feed less and watch treats. Living alone, i knew she wasn’t getting the implied treats. Advice is always feed less without the warning not to go too far and risk muscle loss. 5 years later a blood test revealed an underactive thyroid. After a few months on medication her weight dropped from 30kg to 19kg and mobility improved a bit.
    My current dog looks chubby due to the big chest of a staffy, but I can still see ribs, and she is getting me jogging


  3. Lyn says:

    I had a dog who was part husky and quite fluffy. When she got older I took her to the vet for an old age problem. I told the vet the symptoms and he immediately said the dog was overweight. I did not agree but said nothing. Then he picked her up to weigh her. He exclaimed how thin she was! He did not apologize but his demeanor changed drastically


  4. Wendy says:

    Apart from medical issue such as the above comment, there is no excuse. Who is in charge of what a dog eats?
    Mine are very small dogs, and should weigh around 4 kg. One has prior hip and knee injuries from before i rescued him, so it’s even more important for him. I feed what they need, if I give treats I reduce the feed. If they have a day with less exercise than usual i reduce the feed., if we have a super active day I don’t worry about the treats. Once in a while we have a lovely treat -something I’ve cooked, but I am constantly monitoring. I don’t need to weigh them, I can see if they are ok weightwise. They are so small and have bottomless appetites that even a few days excess can make a difference. I went away recently and left my husband in charge for 5 days. When I came back my bitch was looking a little thinner and the dog a bit well padded. He steals her food, I concluded that my husband could not be bothered to keep an eye on this.


  5. Michelle says:

    That “super fluffy” thing makes it so hard! My older girl looks overweight, but if you dig down into her coat, you can feel her ribs (this is not easy, even for vets). She has a good three inches of coat on top and the hair on the bottom I once measured at anywhere from 5 to 9 inches! She looks rotund until you watch her move and realize there’s a lot less dog under that coat!

    And yes, I agree…feel the ribs, see a waist and a nice tuck-up. I keep my dogs in good shape. They’re both athletes (my older girl has been doing agility for over 5 years and my younger dog, who I just adopted, is just starting his training) and the last thing I need is an injury that was caused by too much weight and so could have been prevented!


  6. Lynn W. Jackson says:

    Loved, enjoyed and appreciated this article! Did it hit close to home? YES! Did it strike a nerve? YES! Did it anger me? NO!! It is an article that needed to be read and MUSTARD be followed. It is time past time I took my head out of the sand and begin following my vets’ advice. I’ve been listening, but not hearing. THANK YOU — we begin TODAY!


    Minette Reply:

    Yippeee!! that is the best kudos I could receive, thank you


  7. Phyllis says:

    When my son got his Beagle Lillie, she was hands down the fattest dog I’d ever seen; she couldn’t even scratch if she had an itch. He has paid attention to her diet and walks her daily. She has lost weight but has more to lose. Her previous owner was literally killing her with table scraps and junk food. So sad.


  8. Loretta says:

    As others I appreciate this article. Kinda broke my heart and still does thinking of my dear little weiner dog. I had a horrible exhusband who overfed her and she suffered for it. To all of you who feed doggie table scraps, ice cream and junk because they beg for it PLEASE rethink what you are doing. You are the brains and they don’t understand. Thank you Chet for this article.


  9. Carla Harris,DVM says:

    As a veterinarian, I have always advised my clients that their dog should have ribs that are easily felt, but not to be able to easily feel between them.


  10. Annemarie Gibbon says:

    I agree whole heartily about watching your dogs weight. I have a Bichon Poodle mix Bennett. He is only 14 lbs. and the worst eater I have ever had. I rescued him from an older women at 5 months of age. She worked at Dunken Donuts and she would bring food from work home. So Bennett expected the same from me. Momma don’t play those games. If he does not eat his dinner then he gets nothing until the next day. He is usually really hungry at that point. I have to watch my husband he is always sneaking table scraps in his food and then Bennett throws it up and rats out my husband. Good Boy Bennett!!!


  11. Jo Kovach says:

    We cut way back on treats for our new dog and made it impossible for the two of them to steal each other’s food. But new dog kept gaining…found that she visits the neighbor Who is a self-styled ‘treat lady’. If just asking didn’t do it…what next?


    Minette Reply:

    Stop her from visiting… I couldn’t allow my dogs to visit the neighbors.


  12. My doggie, at about 1 year, had that nice little “tuck up” or waist and I could easily feel her ribs. When I took her to the vet for her next series of shots he told me she was overweight because there was a roll behind her (loose) collar. I had never heard of that before. We work on her weight which seems to go up and down a pound or two all the time. She is a Chihuahua mix (we don’t know with what she is mixed) and a normal size for a full size Chihuahua. Our only real indication of her weight, other than putting her on the scale, is that little roll behind her collar. She does have a problem with her “floating patella”? but that was before she became “overweight”. Any thoughts? I am confused…


    Minette Reply:

    Rolls are not good on people or dogs, if there is a roll, that is probably an indicator and your vet is the paid expert.

    I would chase a good diet for your dog, it will make life easier and less stressful on the patella. Even though weight may not have caused it… it certainly can affect it.


  13. Peter in Australia says:

    I couldn’t agree more about ribs need to be evident. The way I have known if fat is OK on my Maltese bitch and Irish Setter dog is to thoroughly wet them….bath time! Fluffy fur is now not camouflaging their true fat layer. As for treats, being a committed obedience instructor at our dog club, we feed SMALL light treats like cut up chicken breast which is far better than fatty meats or overdosing on kibble.
    Great article and what should be obvious to all sensible pet owners (but sadly is not obvious to many).


  14. I couldn’t agree more about ribs need to be evident. The way I have known if fat is OK on my Maltese bitch and Irish Setter dog is to thoroughly wet them….bath time! Fluffy fur is now not camouflaging their true fat layer. As for treats, being a committed obedience instructor at our dog club, we feed SMALL light treats like cut up chicken breast which is far better than fatty meats or overdosing on kibble. Great article and what should be obvious to all sensible pet owners (but sadly is not obvious to many).


    Minette Reply:

    My fluff’s ribs can be felt… I just can’t see her ribs 🙂


  15. Evelyn Zinnauer says:

    Great article, confirms my belief. Never want my dogs to be overweight.i am very conscious of what they consume, no human treats, unless I have meat and veg food leftovers then that may be added to their main meal. I will show my kids article, they assume because u see slight ribs on them, I am not poi feeding them properly. If u close ur fist run fingers over knuckles and if your dog feels that way when u run across ribs, thats skinny. Open ur hand and run across the underside of knuckles on your open palm, thats what ribs on dog should feel like. That was on show called Doctors


  16. Linda says:

    Great article. Thank you so much for the helpful information you give to keep our pets healthy.


  17. Marie says:

    Thank You so much for this article, I have Miniature Schnauzers and can see all their ribs. I have been worried about them not eating enough and offering more food which they don’t take me up on…I use their food kibble as a treat because they think anything I give them from my hand is a treat anyway, but it’s a great relief to know that they aren’t too skinny and just very active and play a lot!


  18. Brenda says:

    When my mom was alive, we had 2 cats and 2 dogs, a black lab and a Lhasa Apso (the Gizz). They were way overweight, the lab was 92 pounds and the Gizz was 26. I did ask her not to share her snacks with them but well, you know how that can go. But after she died and this did not take too long, my lab (Mac) lost his excess and came in at 85 pounds. His ideal should have been 76 textbook but he was bigger than most labs. The vet told me not to let him get higher than that. His body set itself around that weight. The Gizz went plummeting down to 19 pounds and I was advised not to let him go lower. All in all, the Gizz lived to be 15 years, surviving his mommy (my mom ) by about 7 years and his groomer said that the weight loss added years to his life. He developed arthritis and cataracts and lost further weight due to muscle atrophy but it could not be helped. The lab made it to 12 and he did have some hip dysplasia. I really did nothing special; there just wasn’t anyone around feeding them 24/7 so they shed the weight without any kind of extra exercise. So I gather that if you can add exercise you can take off weight and years faster or further. I also had to switch my dogs to a lamb and rice formula because the Gizz had serious skin break out issues that left him miserable. A simple change of food did the trick and he had no further skin issues. I keep my collies on chicken and brown rice, no soy wheat or corn.


  19. Kim says:

    I totally agree, 100%. I’m a dog sports trainer and teacher. I too have seen unnecessary things happen to over weight dog. It aggravates the devil out of me to inform students about over weight problem and they do nothing about it. I feel it’s my responsibility to inform them about their dog’s health. That’s one of the reason they pay a professional. I think your article is great! Thanks for putting the truth out there. We humans have a choice to be over weight or in great shape. Our four legged partners relie on us to make the best decisions for them. It’s out of their control as to what we feed and treat them.


  20. sage says:

    so just to be clear… if my dog has a roll behind her collar but she has a good waist and you can see her ribs (in a good way) that means she is over weight?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *