I get a lot of Aussie owners contacting us about weight issues, so if you’ve got an overweight Aussie, you’re not alone!
Unfortunately, Australian Shepherds are a breed prone to excessive weight gain. Thankfully, there are a few things we can do, and this article has everything you need to know.
What’s The Correct Weight For An Australian Shepherd
Before worrying too much or making drastic changes, it helps to know the correct weight range for an Australian Shepherd.
You may realize that your Aussie isn’t actually as far off as you thought. It also helps to keep in mind that your Aussie’s weight can fluctuate depending on age.
Check out the following healthy weight ranges for adults:
● Healthy male Australian Shepherds can range from 45lbs – 70lbs (2-7 years)
● Healthy female Australian Shepherds can range from 35lbs – 55lbs (2-7 years)
How does your Aussie compare on the scales?
The ideal weight: Aussies were certainly not bred to be lazy and therefore thrive the best when they are agile, fast, and lean. Due to this, your Aussie will be better off falling at the lower end of the weight scale discussed above.
Check out the photo below. This is what the ideal weight looks like for an adult Australian Shepherd
Recommended Read: Why Your Australian Shepherd Isn’t Fluffy and What To Do!
4 Ways To Help Your Australian Shepherd Lose Weight
Let’s run through four simple adjustments you can make at home to help your Aussie lose weight. If they need to!
- Before getting started: As weight loss is a very common symptom of underlying health issues, it is recommended to rule out any problems with your veterinarian first.
- Especially if your Aussie has lost weight fast and dramatically, or is exhibiting any other common symptoms of illness such as diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, weakness, appetite changes, or any other unusual behavior.
1. Switch To Low-Calorie Treats
Treats are an essential part of any dog’s day. And while it would be easy for me to write “stop all treats” that would be bad lazy advice.
Treats help with training and the ability to learn new habits and commands, plus they are very helpful to have when out on walks or whenever you need your Aussie to focus. Simply put: treats are important.
If you use pig ear chews, fatty chews, or jerk treats, you are likely adding 100-200 extra calories on top of your Aussie’s normal daily calorie intake. This is already more than enough to cause gradual weight gain.
Fortunately, you can switch over to treats like Zukes Mini Naturals which are not only made from natural ingredients, but they contain less than 3 calories per treat! That’s a HUGE difference from other mainstream dog treats.
Make the switch ASAP and you will instantly reduce the calories that your Australian Shepherd consumes on a daily basis.
2. Stop Table Scraps & Unhealthy Treats
While it’s ok to continue giving dog treats, it’s not ok to continue with tidbits or table scraps!
The food we eat, even in small amounts, has a considerable amount of calories in it. Whether it’s half a pork sausage, a small piece of a burger patty, or even the gravy leftover from your plate… It’s all calories (and a lot of them).
If your Aussie gets table scraps on a near-daily basis, on top of his normal food, weight gain will certainly follow.
Cut out all tidbits, and stick to feeding your Aussie only his meals, and the occasional low-calorie dog treats for good reasons.
This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag | www.thepuppymag.com
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3. Increase Exercise & Playtime
Australian Shepherds require a generous amount of exercise and it plays a crucial role in their overall health and well-being. Australian Shepherds should be receiving around 1.5 – 2 hours of moderate to intensive exercise per day.
Reevaluate your Aussie’s current exercise routine and consider increasing it if you can. An increased amount of exercise will increase the number of calories burned each day AND will keep his metabolism fired up for longer.
Aside from increasing his exercise, engaging in more play sessions is another great way to burn more calories.
Tug of war, fetch, hide-and-seek, and chasing each other are all great games you can play, even if you only have 5 or 10 minutes to spare.
Increasing both his daily exercise and play sessions will have a significant impact on how many calories he burns each day. And the fundamental principle behind weight gain or loss, is calories in, versus calories out.
4. Check The Brand & Adjust Portion Sizes
All dog food is made differently and varies greatly with its calorie content and macronutrient breakdown.
The macronutrient breakdown is the ratio of protein to fat to carbs and this normally changes depending on the quality of the kibble you are using.
Most premium kibbles usually contain high protein, medium to high fat, and low carbohydrates. This kind of breakdown more accurately mimics what a dog’s diet would have been like in the wild. So that’s a good thing.
Many low-quality kibbles contain a high amount of carbohydrates, as these are cheaper to source and bulk up the food quickly. Kibbles like this will naturally contain fewer calories per cup of food but are far less nutritious than high protein/fat options.
With premium kibble, you actually get a higher calorie content per cup of food. So you have to reevaluate the portion sizes accordingly depending on which brand you are using.
- Proper portion sizing and calorie intake is not straightforward… The best advice is to first try following the directions given on the food packaging. Monitor his weight closely over the course of a few weeks, and if weight gain continues, you can try reducing the portion size incrementally (It’s important to make small adjustments).
Getting a balance between portion size and calorie intake compared to how much exercise your Aussie receives can be a time-consuming task. So it’s important to create a plan, and stick to it for at least a few weeks, so you can see how this affects his weight.
Recommended Read: Male Vs Female Australian Shepherds: The KEY Differences
Why It’s Important To Manage Your Australian Shepherd Weight
If your Australian Shepherd is overweight, it’s essential that you take action and work towards gradual weight loss as soon as possible.
No dog should be overweight, especially a breed like an Australian Shepherd who are bred to be agile, lean, and athletic.
It’s already been well documented that dogs who are overweight live a shorter life than dogs who are the correct weight. Furthermore, In the dog world, it’s even healthier to be slightly underweight than slightly overweight.
The range of health issues associated with obesity in dogs:
● Heart disease
● Kidney disease
● Respiratory disease
● High blood pressure
And the list is still much longer.
Extra info: PetMD Overweight Dogs
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When To Visit Your Veterinarian
When it comes to the health and well-being of your dog, there isn’t a “right” time to visit your veterinarian.
If you are unsure, worried, or even slightly concerned, visiting your veterinarian is always a good move.
Ruling out health issues is essential and should be done before potentially wasting time trying out different diets or weight loss tips.
Finding out the root cause of your Australian Shepherd’s weight gain is not only important to fix the issue, but there is a small chance that it’s being caused by an underlying health condition. Only a veterinarian will be able to confirm or rule out health concerns.
On the flip side: Helping Skinny Aussies Gain Weight!
If your Aussie is a little overweight, you aren’t alone and weight issues are common with Australian Shepherds. It’s important to consider the causes, rule out health issues, then try your best to adjust what you can in order to reduce your dog’s weight.
Other Australian Shepherd Articles:
Do Australian Shepherds Like to Cuddle? The Honest Answer
Do Australian Shepherds Need a Companion? Care Guide
Most Recommended For Australian Shepherds
Best Brushes For Shedding
No matter how much you brush your Aussie, if you aren’t using the correct brushes, you’re not getting the most out of each session! A simple Undercoat Rake and a Slicker Brush are by far the two best brushes to handle shedding.
Best Online Training Program
Brain Training For Dogs has become increasingly popular with Australian Shepherds in the last few years. It’s now recognized as perhaps the best way to train your Aussie in the most stress-free, positive way.
Best Low-Calorie Treats
Switch out the calorie-dense dog treats and opt for something healthier. Zuke’s Mini Naturals contain only 2 calories per treat and made from natural ingredients, making these some of the healthiest treats on the market.