Obesity in pets is one the rise. Over 50 percent of American dogs are overweight or obese yet studies show that skinny dogs live longer. A lot longer.
Purina did a landmark study in 2002 using typically chunky Labrador retrievers. They divided 48 sets of twins, told half the group to let them be typical beefy labs and told the other half to limit food and calories so that they were skinny.
The results were shocking. The skinny group outlived the normal group by almost 20 percent (13 years versus 11.3 years). Also, those in the skinny group died a more natural death while almost 90 percent of those in the normal group were euthanized due to medical problems, mostly arthritis.
Since this original study numerous groups have repeated it and achieved nearly identical results. They also found that being skinny delays the onset of many age-related degenerative diseases like cancer, diabetes, organ failure and arthritis.
So, how skinny is skinny enough? Historically, veterinarians have used what is called the Body Condition Score or BCS which rates a dog on a numeric scale based on subjective criteria. You can go online to get some visuals, but here’s the skinny: You want to be able to feel your dog’s ribs with just a little fat between skin and ribs. Your dog should have a waistline, meaning the chest should be wider than the abdomen and there should be nothing hanging beneath. Of course breed variation must be taken into account since what is normal for a greyhound is not normal for a bulldog.
There are indeed medical issues that could cause your dog to be too skinny and any excess or sudden weight loss should be investigated by your veterinarian. The bottom line remains that thin is in!