Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do

Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |
Is Your Pug Overweight?

This might be a touchy subject for most of us: obesity.

We all know being overweight isn’t good for us. Neither is it good for our pug babies. Today, we’ll talk about why keeping an extra close eye on your pug’s waistline might be a good idea and what you can do to make sure your pug has a summer-ready body!
Is being overweight…bad?

One of the many things we love about our pugs is their smushy face. But this also means they are born with a condition called “brachycephalic airway syndrome” (BAS). This basically means that breathing can be a bit of a chore. If you’ve ever done a pug impersonation – and I bet you all have! – you know what it feels like to breathe like a pug!

What does this have to do with being chubby? The extra weight can make breathing even more difficult.

That’s not to mention all the other difficulties that come with obesity. For example:

  • They are a lot more prone to heat stress in the summer when they’re overweight.
  • More stress on the joints, leading to arthritis in the long-term.
  • Prone to developing diabetes and fatty liver disease.
  • Extra skin folds which can become infected.
Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |
Is this all my fault?

You don’t have to take ALL the blame for this one. Pugs are actually more susceptible to weight-gain than other dogs. Part of it is the famous pug appetite – many pugs don’t seem to be very picky with their food. Pugs also tend to be less exercise tolerant. Breathing problems compounded with their stocky build means that exercise can be difficult. Combine a big appetite and exercise intolerance and you get a recipe for extra love handles.

So, is my pug fat?

Fatness is more than just numbers on the scale. We would never expect a 190cm man to weigh the same as a 150cm woman. Bigger, taller pugs should weigh more than smaller, shorter pugs – that’s just logical.

Instead, we rely on what is called a “Body Condition Score”. This is a score given out of 9 (or 5 depending on which part of the world you are in). 1/9 being too skinny and emaciated, 4-5/9 being ideal and 9/9 being morbidly obese.

Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |

Image Source: University of Cambridge, Cambridge BOAS Research Group

There are two easy things to check at home:

1. feel for the ribcage on the side of their chest

Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |

2. look for their waist (from the top and from the side)

Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |

There should be a thin layer of fat covering the ribs, like the back of your hand. You can feel and count the individual ribs easily but there is still a soft cushion. If you have difficulty feeling the ribs without pushing on their sides, there might be too much fat cover! Pugs’ waists are not as pronounced as other breed of dogs, but a healthy pug should still have a small “tuck” of their waist from above and the side.

Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |

I just got a pug baby. How can I prevent it?

The key to prevention is resisting puppy dog eyes. I can almost guarantee that your furbaby will look hungry. Guarantee. And who can resist those huge, pleading eyes?
But we must be strong! Prevention is so much easier than embarking on a weight-loss program. The keys to prevention are: feeding the right amount (and being careful not to overfeed) and being careful with treats. When you start feeding the right amount from a young age, it sets your little pug’s expectations as to how much food to expect. The same principle applies to treats! Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your little pug’s diet.

An important part of making sure you’re feeding the right amount is weighing your pug baby regularly. You should do this every 2 weeks! They grow SO quickly and you’ll need to adjust how much you’re feeding, so you’re meeting their nutritional requirements.

Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |

How can we help my adorable bread loaf shed the pounds?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your pug in shape:

  1. Estimate his/her body condition score. It helps to have an unbiased person do the assessment. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a chat with your vet!
  2. Weigh your pug.
  3. Based on the body condition score and your pug’s body weight, come up with an ideal body weight. Ask your veterinarian to do this for you.
  4. Now, for the actual weight loss plan, you can ask a local veterinarian to calculate the caloric requirement for the weight of your furbaby. Based on this, you can formulate how much food they should be fed every day – regardless of what food you are feeding your fuababy. You should always talk to your vet about food! We understand that different pugs have different needs and preferences.
  5. Your furbaby should also come back for regular weigh-ins! It is considered safe to lose up to 1% of body weight per week but no more! Any additional loss may be muscle loss and we definitely don’t want that!
  6. Once your pug has hit the target weight (YAY), it’s a good idea to weigh-in every month for one year and then every 3 months thereafter. Some pugs who struggle to keep the pounds off need to stay on the weight-loss food. Usually, though, you can resume feeding their regular diet in correctly calculated portions.

In some cases, it can be hard to shed the pounds because of underlying health issues that get in the way. Your vet may recommend a blood test to rule out any other health problems because it really may not be you or your pug’s fault!

Is Your Pug Overweight? How to Tell + What to Do |

Final Words…

I hope this was pug-spirational for you and your pug! Remember, it’s not just about looking good; there are real health benefits to being an ideal weight.

The important thing to remember is to take it slow! Nobody loses weight overnight! Celebrate the little milestones your furbaby will hit every week. We’re looking forward to celebrating your success!

Learn how to check your pug’s body condition score at home with this video!

Photos & videos by The Pug Diary unless stated otherwise

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My Vet Animal Hospital
My Vet Animal Hospital is a small animal veterinary hospital in the heart of Waterloo. For us, loving animals is more than just a profession, it's a way of life. We're just as obsessed with your furbabies as you are! That's why we're so passionate about collaborating with you! We want to empower you to make the best choices for your furbaby.


  1. Avatar Tracie Long on February 18, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Hi . I have 3 pugs 2 girls 1 boy my boy n one girl r married n ther baby girl tiny . She weighs I’m thinking a lil over 30 lbs she’s only 5 yrs old I’m looking 2 get her on a diet . I bought one of those bowls that makes em slow down on food she eats pure balance dog food her vet recommend it well tiny will not eat out of the bowl unless I mix hard n soft food 2gethr she won’t eat anything healthy I’ve tried , wat can I do 2 get her 2 l9se weight . Wen summer gets her we guna do some walking .. But wat can I do n the winter time

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on February 20, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Tracie. To put it simply, you just need to reduce how much food you are giving. You need to feed to her ideal weight not what she currently is. For example, if you feed her 1 cup of food over 2 meals, simply reduce it to 3/4 cup of food over 2 meals. If you find she is still hungry, give healthy snacks that don’t have many calories but will fill her up. Try a variety of veggies, lightly cook them and add to her meals mixed in with everything else. If you are still having trouble, chat to your vet about how much she should be eating for the weight she needs to be.

      I hope that helps.

    • Avatar Erin on August 15, 2020 at 5:30 am

      I have a 3 yr old male pug Dabo. He has gained a lot of weight this year last he weighed 37 lbs he’s solid though! I feed him 1 cup of purena smart blend in the morning and 1 cup in the evening. Is there a more healthy food you can recommend to get some weight off him? He acts like he’s starving lately but I think that’s because he’s been on a steroid because of a insect bite on his face!

      • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on March 26, 2021 at 6:38 pm

        Real fresh food. Nothing beats it. Check out the raw food section for more on how to feed raw to pugs.

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