Are you noticing your dog is looking a little round lately? Maybe they aren’t as active as they used to be and it’s starting to affect their weight and health. Obesity in dogs can cause a lot of health problems and as pet owners it’s our responsibility to ensure their overall wellness. Some of the health problems dog obesity can cause are:
- Heart and skin disease,
- Joint stress,
- And reduced mobility.
If you’re wondering if you dog is overweight, check out our blog post “Is My Dog Overweight?” to help you determine if your pup needs to get back into shape.
When the life expectancy of a dog is only 10-13 years, we want to help you and your pet extend your time together. There are 3 components that can help your dog lose weight and maintain a lean body mass. Let’s get started.
Help Your Dog Lose Weight
The first component in helping obese dogs lose weight is improving their overall lifestyle. Dogs need physical and mental exercise every single day. Like humans, low activity can create physical, emotional and behavioral stress in pets.
When a dog is overweight this can make it extremely difficult for them to move around, walk, and be physically active which in turn stresses them out emotionally. Changing their lifestyle can greatly improve their behavior and attitude.
How to Help A Dog Lose Weight
The second and third components of helping your dog reach their ideal weight is through diet and exercise. Not only will this facilitate your dog’s weight loss, but it will help create healthier lifestyle changes.
Begin with Setting House Rules
If you live with others, sit down to discuss the house rules of helping your dog get into shape. Determine who will take your furry family member for a walk, who is responsible for feeding them and of course making sure no one is sneaking your pet treats or food under the table.
Keep the Water Bowl Full
Like humans, some dogs will eat food when they’re actually thirsty. Keep a full water bowl out at all times and only place down the food bowl during meal times.
Dehydration can also cause low energy. As you begin to increase their physical activity and decrease their calorie intake, make sure your dog gets enough water to keep them hydrated and full.
Types Of Dog Food Best For Weight Loss
One of the most important pieces of helping your dog lose weight is modifying his or her diet. Most dogs that are overweight are typically eating poor quality kibble or dry food or are being overfed.
High-Quality Dog Food Brands
The pet food industry isn’t regulated very well and nice packaging or marketing can fool a lot of pet owners. When choosing a high quality dog food, look for ingredients that contain a lot of protein and not a lot of fillers like grain or corn. Even adding some leafy greens or chopped up red peppers to your dog’s kibble can be a great way to add in some extra nutrients into their diet.
Some of the best dog food brands, according to Dog Food Advisor, are:
- Wellness Complete Health
- Instinct Original
- Nature’s Logic
- Taste of the Wild
- Blue Buffalo
- Purina Pro
- Diamond Naturals
Raw Dog Food Diets
A home cooked diet or raw diet can be another great option for most overweight pups. Things you want to look for in a home cooked diet is providing higher protein, less fat, and less overall calories.
Depending on their weight and calorie requirements, an example of a home cooked dog food meal is a mixture of chopped carrots, broccoli, and zucchini, mashed sweet potato, and lean turkey meat.
Not sure if your dog can eat that? Check out The Ultimate List of Foods Dogs Can & Can’t Eat by Breed Advisor.
How Much Should I Be Feeding My Dog?
An easy way to determine if you are feeding your dog the correct portions is to look on the back of the dog food bag or box and check the requirements according to their weight. Next, purchase a measuring cup dedicated to your dog and his or her food. Clearly mark the right amount of food needed with a piece of duck tape or a permanent marker this way you never have to worry about overfeeding them. This amount should also include any treats you plan to feed them.
Healthy Dog Treat Ideas
Dogs love food rewards but sometimes the treats we give them can contribute to their obesity. A few healthy treat options for your dog are single-ingredient foods like peanut butter, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and frozen carrots. Remember to keep these small as they should fit into the daily amount you’re feeding your dog.
How Can I Get My Dog To Lose More Weight Through Exercise?
A tired dog is a happy dog and regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent pet obesity.
Exercising with your dog is a wonderful bonding activity for you and your pet! Dogs typically need at least 30 minutes of play or activities per day. If your dog hasn’t been very active, start slow. Begin with a 5 minute walk and increase time each time you take your dog outside. Once your dog can easily complete a 20-30 minute walk, you can combine walking with a light jog. Continue with short burst of running over time to help your dog build up stamina.
On a particularly rainy day, a walk or run may not seem like a fun activity. There are plenty of indoor activities you and your dog can play. Youtube vlogger, Rachel Fusaro, has a lot of fun indoor activity ideas. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Muffin Pan Treat Search – place a few treats in each section of a muffin pan. Place a ball on top of the treats in each muffin section. Let your dogs sniff around and find the treats.
- Indoor Treat Distraction – hide treats around your house or apartment and take your dog for a leash walk indoors. This will help tire him or her out mentally as they avoid getting distracted by a treat or toy.
Your dogs weight might have connections with anxiety. Read up on how to tell if your dog has anxiety and what you can do about it.
Be Patient… Dog Weight Loss Takes Time
Dog weight loss may have a lot in common with human weight loss, at least conceptually, and one of those commonalities is that it takes work for a dog to lose weight. After all, if you’re honest about it, it also takes a lot of work for a dog to get to the point where it needs to lose quite a bit of weight in the first place. Therefore, patience is truly a virtue in this situation.
Depending on how much dog weight loss you need to accomplish, it may take weeks or even several months to reach the goal safely. Whatever amount of time it takes, that’s what it takes, and as long as you’re implementing the lifestyle recommendations above and sticking with a solid routine, you’re going to see some progress, no matter how fast or slow it may be.
Every dog is different, which means that every dog weight loss program is different. There are no “crash diets” for dogs that are healthy or safe, and there are no shortcuts. One of the positives about this effort, however, is that the increase in exercise is likely to benefit the human or humans who are taking part in it as well, and making sure a dog lives on a solid routine usually means that humans need to do so as well, which is also beneficial.
Dog weight loss will take some time and effort, but when the goal is achieved and a new lifestyle is in place, it will be more than worth it. Your dog will be happier and healthier. Put in the work for your dog and before long, you’ll be thrilled with the results.