Weighing Your Dog at Home

While we may not get a treat every time we step on the scale, your dog may, especially if he stays still and the vet encourages good behavior with positive reinforcement. However, pet owners should also keep aware of their pet’s weight and occasionally weight them at home between vet visits to ensure your pet is at a healthy body weight.

Dogs should be weighed each year at their annual well pet checkup at the vet. For owners who want to be proactive against obesity or having an underweight dog, weighting a dog at home can be done just twice a year between vet visits. Unless you have a portly pup or a sickly schnauzer, it’s not healthy to become obsessive about weighing your pet as often as some people weigh themselves.

It is only important to keep track of your canine companion’s weight based on their health conditions, age and if you see any physical changes in their physical condition. Puppies can benefit from more frequent weigh-ins especially in their first six months. Routine weighing of a puppy will ensure he is getting enough nutrition and calories from his diet and is growing properly. Dogs that have serious chronic health conditions can also benefit from regular weigh-ins. Diabetes and cancer can cause dehydration or appetite changes. Kidney disease also affects these things so keeping track of your dog’s physical appearance and weight can also reflect changes in their chronic health condition that require medical attention.

The way scales shift underfoot can make large breeds anxious as they are not always very agile. Early exposure to the scale and training a dog to enjoy and relax on a scale can start early. If you bring a dog regularly to the vet to be weighed and meet and greet the front office staff, the dog will not be as nervous at the sights and sounds of the vet. If you have a puppy and are doing regular vet visits, providing a treat and kind praise and affection can comfort them and even make them forget the scale entirely. Clicker training can teach a dog of any age to tolerate getting weighed.

Going to the vet can be incredibly stressful for a dog and sometimes it is inconvenient to schedule a visit for having your dog weighed, so for overly sensitive pups, dogs that don’t tolerate the car well, and for dogs with preexisting health conditions, a dog can be weighed at home. Weighing a dog at home using a normal home scale is no replacement for that annual well pet checkup to ensure your dog is up to date on shots and his in tip-top condition. The home scale is not as accurate as the vet’s scale is but knowing the best way to weigh your dog at home and acknowledging it will only show trends and not be accurate can help a caring owner provide better care for their dog and preventative care is important for pets.

The Technique

Place the bathroom scale on a level and hard surface, a bare flat hard floor is better than a tile floor or carpeting. Never place the scale on a countertop or high surface, otherwise, you risk the dog falling. If you have a small dog you can lift and is placid enough to be held very still for a few seconds, the bathroom scale can provide a good estimate of his weight. If you have a teacup, toy or miniature breed, a baby scale is ideal as it is more accurate and for a small dog, a half-pound weight change in either direction is far more significant. If your dog fights you and does not like to be held or carried, do not try this as you or the dog can get injured in the struggle and squirming to escape.

To use a home scale to weigh your dog is a very simple math equation- “My dog’s weight equals our combined weight minus me.” To get the numbers you start by weighing yourself alone and note your weight. Then pick up your dog and note the number on the scale. Subtract your weight from the combined weight of you and your fabulous furry friend and you have a ballpark figure as to what your dog weighs. If the dog is a cuddler, it’s a lot easier. A writhing dog cannot give you a good estimate and the entire dog’s body must be supported by you, so all his weight is in the “dog and me combined weight” number. Always use the same scale. Different scales can provide different weights and provide inaccurate numbers when mixed.

For dog owners with several dogs or large breeds like mastiffs or boxers and need weight checks between vet visits, you can purchase a dog scale from animal feed and seed providers or online. Dog scales start at around $100 and some scales have different weight limits so if you do decide to invest on a special scale, choose well and make sure if can weight your dog when he is full-grown as well. Luckily, vets typically charge nothing to stop by and have your pet weighed. With training, or if your dog is a good car dog and likes the sensory overload of the vet and seeing other animals, a bi-annual pop in to check their weight is not ever a problem and weight problems or health issues can be treated and caught earlier if they are present.

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