How to Get a Dog to Lose Weight

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Cute French Bulldog puppy being measured with soft measuring tape

Canine obesity is one of the biggest health concerns veterinarians battle against. Pet parents need to know how to get a dog to lose weight! Why? Well, according to the recent survey of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 56% of dogs in the United States are diagnosed with obesity.

Health Issues Caused by Canine Obesity

There are nearly 100 million lovable dogs that are at risk of developing catastrophic health effects, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Decreased stamina
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Digestive disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Malignant tumors
  • Poor liver function
  • Renal failure
  • Weakened immune system

Worse yet, many pet owners turn a blind eye to the repercussions of obesity. Others convince themselves that their dogs are merely “big-boned” or “well-covered.”

The Easiest Way to Tell If Your Dog is Fat

Look at your dog from the top. There should be an inward curve between the back of their hips and rib cage. If not, we bet they have a sagging stomach. If that’s the case, it’s time to learn about how to get a dog to lose weight!

adorable husky puppy being weighed on digital scale

Why is My Dog Fat?

There are various medical and non-medical factors that make dogs obese.

  • Overfeeding and lack of exercise: Overfeeding is the greatest culprit of canine obesity – all-day access to food and yummy treats galore. Coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, you will surely have a super-sized dog in no time.
  • Cushing’s disease: Also known as hyperadrenalism, it is a condition in which the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of stress hormones, resulting in increased appetite.
  • Emotional eating: Even if your dog isn’t diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, they will tend to go off feeding when they feel stressed. Humans are not the only beings who eat their way out of negative feelings. Dogs can also eat too much as a response to boredom, anxiety, and depression.
  • Hypothyroidism: It is a condition resulting from the insufficient production of thyroid hormones. Thereby, affecting your dog’s metabolism.
  • Sterilization: Dogs can survive without getting spayed or neutered but it is the best decision for the average household pet. However, changes in hormones result in a slower metabolism and increased appetite. Feeding your dog the same amount of calories as before he was spayed or neutered is a surefire way to gain weight.

Dog Weight Loss: How to Get a Dog to Lose Weight in 6 Steps

Let’s look at effective ways of how to get a dog to lose weight!

Cut Down on the Carbs, Up the Protein

We all love carbs, even Fido, but it’s not ideal to give an already chubby dog too many carbohydrates!

Commercial dog food

Watch out for the fine print if you choose to feed your podgy pooch dried complete dog food or moist canned dog food. It should be low in carbohydrates, moderate in fat, and high in protein. A diet high in carbohydrates and low in other nutrients will only make it impossible to lose weight.

Unfortunately, most commercial dog food varieties consist of a high percentage of carbohydrates and bulking agents; not to mention a bewildering list of additives. If you want your pooch to look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, choose products that are made with whole ingredients. High-quality dog food tends to be more expensive, but you can judge the difference for yourself.

Home-Cooked Dog Food

If you love to prepare your dog’s own food, we suggest you add more vegetables and fewer grains. Dogs are omnivorous – enjoying both meat and vegetables – but you need to cut down on grains and starches for your dog to lose weight fast. Vegetables still contain a considerable amount of carbohydrates for energy. As an added bonus, they contain a host of vitamins and minerals to strengthen your dog’s immune system.

Likewise, use lean meat for protein and avoid meat by-products. The aim is to have your porky pooch lose fat and gain strong muscles. You can also include eggs to your dog’s food occasionally. While there is no harm in adding plant-based proteins to your dog’s diet, it should not serve as your dog’s main protein source, which is meat.

Last but not least, add just a meager amount of fat to your dog’s food to satiate their appetite. Recent studies show dogs benefit from taking fish oil. It is considered a healthy kind of fat, as it contains omega-3 fatty acids that help assuage hunger, promote mobility, and fight inflammation.

How to Get a Dog to Lose Weight? Calculate the Calories!

Keeping your dog’s bowl always full is not a sign of love, but of encouraging obesity. Rather than feed your dog an all-day buffet, feed them two to four small portions of food each day that will amount to the total calories they need. Use a timed automatic food dispenser if your work schedule makes it difficult to abide by this strategy.

Don’t trust the feeding guidelines provided by most commercial dog food packages. A majority of commercial products are formulated for an un-spayed or an un-neutered active dog at their prime age. This means you may be feeding your dog 20% – 30% more food than they need.

Ask your vet to get a definite number of calories your dog needs to lose weight. Your vet will base it on several factors such as your dog’s age, size, and the amount of exercise they receive.

Additionally, your vet will help you determine the amount of food you need to give your dog. The amount will vary greatly, as it depends upon the caloric density of a particular food. When it comes to the battle of canine obesity, a measuring cup is your sword!

dog food in measuring cup

Limit the Treats

Do you have kids who tuck calorie grenades in their pockets? The quickest way to sabotage your efforts is by having someone who secretly spoils your dog with treats, particularly the indulging kind laden with processed sugar and lard.

If you aren’t careful, treats will blow up your dog’s waistline and affect their health. So, give your dog treats only when they’ve earned it. Better yet, choose low-calorie nutritious tidbits that will provide extra health bonuses to your podgy pooch. Good examples are:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Melon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Zucchini

These wholesome treats still add a substantial amount of calories. So, it is wise to give your dog peewee pieces only. Fortunately, a dog cares more about the number of treats they receive than the size of the treat.

Lastly, remind everyone in your household that your dog’s weight loss is a family project. You may also want to do a little snooping to see if someone employed your dog as the new dishwasher. How to get a dog to lose weight? It takes a tribe!

Hustle for Weight Loss

You don’t have to encourage your dog to be active because they are rarely lazy in the first place. Dogs are feisty balls of fire but if their owners are too lazy to play with them or spend time in any physical activity, they will become destructive salivating beasts.

Physical exercise benefits our canine companions in the same way it benefits humans:

  • Aids in weight loss or weight management
  • Improves heart health
  • Lowers cholesterol levels
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • Strengthens joints and promotes mobility
  • Eliminates anxiety and depression

Therefore, get your canine companion moving! Find a way to make exercise fun and exciting. Change the route of your normal walk. Swim. Go hiking so your little Sherlock Holmes has a new battery of smells and sights to get excited over. 

Young lady exercising with her dog

Keep Your Dog Busy with a Tasty Chew

Rather than give your dog a bag of treats or Kong stuffed with kibble, give them a tasty long-lasting chew. Don’t give your dog a butcher’s bone, but buy some dried tendons and knuckles from the pet store. These chews will help keep your dog happy and out of caloric trouble.

Check with Your Vet

If you’re worried, ask a vet how to get a dog to lose weight. Have your vet rule out any underlying medical conditions before you change your dog’s diet or start a new exercise routine. Senior dogs with kidney failure may need a different type of diet that is kept as “prescription-only” products supplied by your vet.

Conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome will prove to be a thorn in your dog’s weight loss program. If your dog has no underlying problem, then you can expect them to reach their weight loss goal within three to six months.

Keeping Fido Fit is Your Responsibility!

As a pet parent, it is our responsibility to make sure our furry family members maintain a healthy weight. This includes knowing how to get a dog to lose weight!

We must discipline ourselves in the same way as we discipline our canine companions. By using these six practical suggestions, you will witness your podgy pooch progress back to healthy happiness!

Author Bio:

Lara Baylosis writes weekly articles for Pet Comments and does nothing without Bungo’s advice. Because of Bungo’s words of wisdom, she was able to survive the writing industry for over four years. Bungo is a sweet, loyal mutt.

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