Most physical examinations begin with the dog or person hopping onto the scale. Dogs may be more tolerant of this routine, particularly if they are rewarded with treats by the veterinarian. You may want to weigh the dog between vet visits. Learn how and why you should weigh your dog yourself.
When Should I weigh my dog?
The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty’s Angell Animal Medical Center, in Boston, recommends that dogs are weighed once a month. Dr. Matthew Rooney of Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists, in Longmont (Colo.), says the majority of pet owners can get by with weighing dogs only every six months.
They say that in some cases you may want to weigh the dog more often, depending on its age and overall health. O’Bell says that puppies, for example, should be weighed more frequently, every 3 to 4 weeks during the first 6 months. Weight checks are also required for chronic medical conditions that can cause changes in water intake or appetite (like cancer and diabetes). You can ask your veterinarian how frequently you should weigh your dog.
You can weigh your pet at home if visits to your vet to weigh in are too stressful for him, or you find it difficult to arrange, or he suffers from a chronic illness. O’Bell explains that “many clients” ask him if they are allowed to use home scales. I tell my clients that they can use their home scales to get a basic idea of trends. However, any significant differences should then be confirmed using a hospital scale.
How can I weigh my dog at home?
Rooney advises that if your dog is small and you are able to hold it still for at least a few moments, you should be able to weigh him using your bathroom scale.
Place your bathroom scale on a flat, hard surface. Preferably the floor. O’Bell says that this is the best way to use your bathroom scale. You also eliminate any risk of your pet falling off a surface such as a counter. Very small dogs. O’Bell suggests using a child’s scale because even small weight changes (a gain or loss of a quarter pound or so) can have a big impact on your dog’s overall weight. Do not force your dog to weigh himself this way if he does not want to be picked up or held. You or your dog could be injured if he struggled.
Rooney recommends using this process to weight your dog. First, you must weigh yourself. Next, step onto the scale with your dog. Record that weight. To determine the weight of your dog, subtract your own weight from your combined weight with your pet.
You can purchase a scale for your dog online, or in a pet supply store if you own a big dog. The prices start around $100 and the models come in different sizes. Rooney adds that almost all vet clinics will let you weigh your dog at no cost. Use the same scale every time. He said that scales vary to an extreme degree. A weight measured on one scale could differ from five to ten lbs if it is used with a different model.
What if my dog doesn’t like being weighed?
O’Bell says that the subtle instabilities of scales can be frightening for some dogs, especially larger breeds. This is particularly true if your dog has a fear of being around medical personnel. She says that if possible, you should start weighing your puppy as soon as he’s old enough. Always praise your pup with your voice after the weigh-in and give him a treat.
Clicker training is a great way to help your dog become comfortable with being weighed. O’Bell says that you can click and reward your dog for doing things like sniffing the scale and placing one foot onto it. You could also work up to him holding a stand or sitting on the scale in order for the weight to be accurate. She says that clients are welcome to bring their pets to the hospital to get them used to weighing and/or greeting the staff.