Are you worried that your dog might be overweight? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us are concerned about the health and well-being of our canine companions, which is why we want to ensure they stay at their ideal weight.

The truth is that being overweight isn’t just unhealthy for humans—it can also lead to serious health problems for dogs. It can lead to heart disease, diabetes, joint issues, and more. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), one in three pets is overweight or obese!

So how do you know if your dog is at an appropriate weight? Here are three markers we would use to tell if your dog is indeed over their ideal weight:

Feel the ribs: There should be only a slight covering of fat over the top of the ribs, and I mean slight! You want to feel a little padding there, but not too much.

Look at the waist: You should be able to appreciate your dog’s waist. This means looking at them from above and noticing that there isn’t an excessive amount of fat around their middle section. Instead, it should have some definition to it.

Feel the muscles: This is another way to tell if your dog is in a healthy weight range. If you can feel their ribs and see definition in their waist, they are likely at an appropriate weight!

How much food should I feed my dog?

If your dog is overweight, reduce the amount you feed her by a teensy bit every week until you can see the pounds start coming off. There’s no need to switch diets or add in any fancy supplements. All you have to do is start feeding a set portion of food and reduce the amount just a bit at a time.

Once you start to see the weight come off, maintain this food volume until she’s reached the weight your veterinarian has recommended as her target. Once there, you might find that giving a little more is perfectly fine. You’ve got a bona fide vet-approved weight loss plan with a little trial and error.

How about treats?

First, let’s talk about the size of the treat. I am a fan of breaking the treat in half or into smaller pieces. Again, the dog does not care how big the treat is at the end of the day; remember, they will want more no matter what size it is. Also, you should know that their stomachs are not even feeling the whole treat you typically give them. You would have to feed them ten treats for their stomach receptors to feel it. Next, we need to discuss what your dog does when you give them a treat. The truth is that they will eat anything you give them, and they are not picky at all. If you want to know how many treats per day your dog should have, I would say no more than two or three. My vet recommended we give treats like cucumbers, tomatoes, or blueberries.

Doggie exercise

There’s no doubt that just like a human who exercises is a healthier human, a dog who is exercised is also a healthier dog.

Here’s a bonus incentive for you: For years, celebrity dog trainer Cesar Milan has said that a tired dog is, by default, a well-behaved dog. There is no doubt in my mind that he is right about this… so get off the couch, get outside, smell the fresh air, and go have fun with your dog.