Addressing Dog Weight Loss &
Dog Obesity

Dog weight loss can cause previously fat dogs to live up to 2 years longer. 

Two years!

This is significant not only because of the increased lifespan but because so many dogs could benefit... as many as half of all dogs are obese, and that the percentage is climbing.

What's more, between 60 and 70% of the owners of fat dogs don’t think their dogs are obese, according to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Could you be one of the 3 to 4 out of 5 owners of overweight dogs who don’t recognize that their dog is fat?

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Don’t put this off. If you don’t already know, pick up the phone right now and call your vet to determine the ideal weight for your dog. We’ll wait right here…

…got the number? How does it compare to your dog’s current weight?

If your dog could stand to lose a few, keep reading…


How Do Fat Dogs Get That Way in the First Place?

We hate to say it, but your dog is probably overweight because of you, but there is a chance that other factors are contributing....

What do your dog’s diet and exercise look like?

The equation is the same for pets as it is for humans:

If calories consumed are greater than calories burned, your dog will gain weight.

From a diet perspective, too many sweets or fatty foods fill your dog’s belly without having the right amount of protein, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Your dog’s instinct will be to eat more to obtain these essential nutrients, and they will get fatter and fatter in the process.

As far as exercise goes, dogs were first domesticated as working companions. The couch potato companion dog is a relatively recent phenomenon, and even the healthiest of diets need to be burned off by adequate exercise.

Dog Metabolism and Hormonal Problems

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There is a chance that your dog is obese because of metabolism or hormonal problems such as hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism (also known as Cushing’s disease) that can cause uncontrollable hunger.

Take your dog to the vet to make sure one of these is not the issue before proceeding. In addition to following our advice further down the page, your vet will most likely offer special treatment to get these conditions under control.

Spaying or Neutering

Another factor to consider is the aftermath of having your dog spayed or neutered. Several studies have proven that there are higher rates of obesity in dogs that are no longer intact, which is probably due to a change in hormone levels.

Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight after they have been spayed or neutered.

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Health Benefits of Dog Weight Loss & Maintaining an Ideal Weight

If extending your dog’s life by two years isn’t enough to get you motivated, then take a look at the other negative health effects of dog obesity:

  • Complicates other diseases and disorders
  • Exercise and heat intolerance
  • Glucose tolerance imbalances
  • Fatigue
  • Heart strain and cardiovascular problems
  • Increased risks from anesthesia and during certain surgical procedures
  • Joint and bone problems
  • Low energy
  • Poor Circulation
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Weakened immune system

Pretty scary stuff. And the longer you wait, the worse it will get.

Lack of sleep and limited exercise create even more hormonal problems, which in turn increase the risk of the above issues, which in turn limits the ability to sleep and increases the pain of exercising, and on and on and on.

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Best Way to Promote Dog Weight Loss & Help Your Dog Keep It Off

Here’s some extra motivation before you get started: An Ohio State study  concluded that dog weight loss programs are extremely successful and achieve a mean weight loss of 15% body weight.

Now that you really, really motivated, let's discuss...

The 3 Legs of an Effective Dog Weight Loss Program

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The 3 legs of an effective dog weight loss program are:

  1. Increase exercise to improve metabolism.  An increased metabolism will cause calories to be burned more quickly.
  1. Stop feeding snacks between meals.  If you simply must (or if your dog won’t leave you alone), only give them small amounts of the healthy stuff, including:
    • Apples
    • Carrots or other vegetables (one of our dogs loves baby carrots)
    • Lean meat
    • Raw bones
    • Unsalted popcorn (without oil or butter)

See the following pages for more about feeding your dog fruits, vegetables and raw meat:

  1. Feed your dog 2 meals per day that consist of about 2/3 of the calories needed to maintain your dog’s ideal weight.  The food should be low-fat, high in protein, enzymes, vitamins and minerals and should include plenty of bran or veggies to fill your dog’s stomach. 

If one of these 3 legs is removed, your dog weight loss table will fall over.  Be sure to set a plan that adheres closely to all three.

We have 2 recommended dog weight loss recipes further down the page. There are also many specially formulated dog weight loss dog foods on the market, but work with your vet to help you choose a good one.

Setting and Sticking to Your Goals

To get started, set a goal and stick to it.  Work with your vet to determine your dog’s ideal weight and have them recommend and sign off on a diet and exercise plan.  Confirm that there are no underlying health conditions as discussed above.

Do NOT simply run to the store and buy “low-fat” dog food. Often times commercial dog foods are not specially formulated for active weight loss. If you don’t want to prepare your own food as discussed in the next section, have your holistic vet recommend a good product. If your dog doesn’t like it, continue getting recommendations until you find one that suits you both (a dog nutritionist can also be recommended by your vet).

Next, you know what they say, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure!” Weigh and document your dog’s weight each week. Check in with your vet periodically to discuss progress along with your dog’s general overall condition.

The Right Mindset

Finally, BE PATIENT. As long as your dog is continually losing weight – even very small amounts per week – they are on the right track.

Shoot for a loss of 1 to 2% body weight per week. Anything more could mean that your dog is losing muscle, in which case you may need to up the exercise.

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Best Dog Weight Loss Food on the Market

There are tons of dog foods out there claiming that they will help your dog lose weight, but only a very small percentage of them will keep your dog in optimal health.

The following foods pass the Healthy Label Test dog food ratings with a "5 out of 5", so you can be confident that they will keep your dog healthy while shedding the extra pounds.

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If you're still not sure whether your dog needs to lose weight, tell our veterinarians about your dog and submit a picture through our My Online Vet ask-a-veterinarian service.

Be as thorough as possible about your dog's situation, including current and past diet and exercise habits and your dog's breed, gender, age and weight.  We'll get back to you right away to let you know if there's an issue and whether anything needs to be changed for your dog.

Recommended Foods for Dog Obesity

10 best dog food

Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Grain-Free Dry Canine Diet Dog Food

10 best dog food Healthy Label Test Results

Castor & Pollux Organix Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food 14.5 lbs

Castor & Pollux Organix Weight Management Adult Dry Dog Food

10 best dog food Healthy Label Test Results

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Dog Weight Loss Recipes

Dr. Pitcairn’s Natural Health for Dogs and Cats recommends the following 2 recipes for dog weight loss. Use this table to determine how much to feed per meal based on your dog’s ideal weight:

Ideal Dog Weight (lbs.)  Amount to Feed Per Meal (cups)
10 1 ½
25 4
40 5
60 7
85 9
Dog Weight Loss Diet #1

30% protein, 12% fat, 53% carbohydrates + 2,500mg of added calcium from Animal Essentials supplement

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked vegetables (carrots, peas, green beans, corn, etc; use frozen or canned if you must for convenience)
  • 1 cup oat or wheat bran
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cup uncreamed (low fat) cottage cheese
  • ½ pound (1 cup) ground or chunked turkey, chicken (without skin), lean beef, heart, liver or lean hamburger
  • 2 ½ teaspoons Animal Essentials calcium (or a scant 1 ½ teaspoons of eggshell powder)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Balanced dog vitamins

Directions

  1. Cook the veggies, using 3 to 4 cups of water.
  2. When they are soft, add the bran and oats.  Cover and let sit for 10 minutes or until the oats are soft.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, except the vitamins.
  4. Refrigerate extras.
  5. When serving a meal portion, add a balanced dog vitamin that supplies the minimum daily standards as recommended on the label.
  6. Decide what your dog’s ideal weight should be and feed 2 meals per day based on the serving size per weight indicated in the table above.

The following diet is better suited for smaller dogs because it uses relatively higher amounts of meat:

Dog Weight Loss Diet #2

26% protein, 15% fat, 56% carbohydrates + 2,500mg of Calcium from Animal Essentials supplement

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 pound) ground or chunked turkey, chicken, lean beef heart, liver or lean hamburger
  • 5 cups boiled or baked potatoes (or 3 ½ cups cooked bulgur or rice)
  • 2 cups oats or wheat bran (or vegetables, such as peas, green beans, carrots or corn)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons Animal Essentials calcium (or a scant 1 ½ teaspoons of eggshell powder)
  • Balanced dog vitamins

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the vitamins.
  2. When serving, add a balanced dog vitamin, supplying the minimum daily standards.  Feed about the same amounts as Diet 1.
  3. Immediately refrigerate extras.
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