How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight? 7 Easy Dog Weight Loss Tips

Obesity is one of the most preventable diseases to dogs and also the most common. Here are 7 easy ways to help your dog lose weight.

Overweight Dog

As a dog owner, I know that obesity in dogs is a problem that is growing.

The Association of Pet Obesity Prevention assesses that 55.8% of American dogs are either overweight or obese. In addition, a study conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital revealed the rapid growth of diagnosed obesity in dogs, revealing a 108% increase over the past decade. 

They also found that an overweight dog’s lifespan was 2 ½ years shorter, on average, in comparison to dogs with healthy body weight. [1,2]

This demonstrates the speed this issue is growing, and some of the issues dog owners face if it isn’t addressed. I thought I would take a closer look at this for you.

After several days of research, here are 7 easy ways to help your dog lose weight and maintain it. 

Note: This information is general guidance only and is not meant as a substitute for your veterinary’s specific advice and recommendations.

How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight? 7 Easy Dog Weight Loss Tips

Why does it matter if my dog is overweight?

As little as 5 pounds above your dog’s ideal weight can put them at risk of potentially developing severe medical conditions. Common issues include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney disease
  • Decrease in cardiovascular health
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Hip dysplasia

Recent lifetime studies of Labrador Retrievers discovered that being moderately overweight resulted in a dog’s life expectancy reducing by two years compared to those with leaner body weight.

In addition, the report discovered that bone mineral density was less in dogs that carried more weight. [3]

Maintaining your dog’s weight is helpful when abnormalities occur with your dog, such as Cushing’s disease (overactive adrenal glands), which causes dogs to develop a potbelly.

Should your dog be slightly overweight, it can be harder to identify. You can be inclined to dismiss it as your dog is chubbier or older.

If you monitor your dog’s weight, you can identify abnormalities such as this and treat the disease quickly.

How do I know if my dog is overweight?

Firstly, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs. If they are not prominent and you cannot easily feel them or have to press hard to feel them, this could be an early indicator your dog is overweight.

Secondly, you can tell if your dog is overweight by their shape. A dog’s waist should not be saggy or swinging.

View your dog from the side and look at their waist. You should be able to see their waist slightly raised. If your dog’s waist is hanging down or oval-shaped, then your dog is very likely to be overweight.

The below image demonstrates what the ideal shape of your dog should be.

Dog Weight Appearance
Image From Purina

What can I do to help my dog lose weight?

It is challenging to help dogs lose weight, primarily because they depend on us to help them manage it.

We all know that they would eat and eat if it were up to them until they were full to the brim.

Luckily there are many things you can do to help your dog lose weight.

1. Stick to the recommended feeding guides on the food bag

It can be tempting to feed your dog less food or fewer calories to help them lose weight quickly. However, this will lead to other health complications if you do so.

Speak to your veterinarian to establish a safe diet for your dog, as obesity can be a direct result of other underlying health conditions. 

Ask your veterinarian for the ideal weight for your dog as well. By doing this, you can determine your dog’s target weight and calorie intake to help them reach that goal. Consider things such as your dog’s excess weight, as well as breed and age, to establish a safe plan for them.

According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, they recommend weight loss in dogs to be approximately 3-5% of their body weight per month. [4]

Below is the RER (Resting Energy Requirements) for your dog’s body, which is the minimum energy requirements to perform vital bodily functions such as respiration, heart functions, digestion, brain activities, etc. [5]

Note: This is a general guideline only and is not meant to substitute your veterinarian’s specific recommendations.

Ideal Weight (lbs)Calories to feed (kcal) at 100% RER per day

Each dog food has specific ingredients that provide nutritional qualities for your dog. Check the label to understand what their recommended portion sizes are for your dog. 

Invest in a kitchen scale so you can accurately know the portion sizes you are giving. This will be vital in smaller breeds, as an extra few grams can accumulate over time.

Keep in mind that most portion sizes explained on food bags are recommendations for each day, not per portion size. If your dog eats two times a day, remember to divide the amount by two for each meal.

Knowing your dog’s weight as time goes on is another essential part of following the food’s instructions. 

There’s an easy way to do this! You can weigh your dog by weighing yourself and your dog together and then subtracting your weight.

It is recommended that before you tweak your dog’s diet, you consult a veterinarian. 

Changing your dog’s diet even slightly may cause nutritional imbalances as time goes on. It could be that your dog is better off with an alternative balanced, complete diet.

2. Try to get your dog to drink at feeding times

Getting your dog to drink at feeding time can help them feel full and decrease the chances of begging afterward.

However, it’s essential to be vigilant of the amount of food your dog consumes. Too much food, combined with excessive water, may result in the food expanding in your dog’s stomach and cause discomfort or even bloating.

Adding water to your dog’s kibble or even replacing some dry kibbles with wet food is a great way to hydrate your dog if they don’t like drinking at feeding time. 

However, if you are going to add some wet food to your dog’s dry food, it’s best to choose a diet that provides relevant instructions on mixing the two, so it keeps your dog’s diet balanced. 

Diets that contain higher water content will help your dog feel full and satisfied. [6]

3. Exercise

Like humans, dogs need regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight. Physical exercise allows your dog to burn off their energy and is an excellent way of bonding with them!

Use the excuse to exercise with your dog as an opportunity to find new ways of making exercise more fun.

In addition, moderate amounts of exercise have proven to support cardiovascular health in dogs and the musculoskeletal system. [7,8]

It doesn’t have to be the same long old walk; switch it up! Dogs love to go for a swim, play catch, jogging, and even hiking. Canine sports are another great way of bonding with them while getting ample amounts of exercise. 

Just remember to enjoy yourselves!

4. Give your dog nutritional, low-calorie treats

Overall, it is best to give your dog chew sticks that are primarily made out of meat. However, some vegetable treats typically found around the house can be great alternatives for your dog.

Dogs can gain substantial health benefits by having a carrot in moderation. Carrots are high in vitamin A, which can benefit your dog’s immune system, coat, and skin. They’re also great for your dog’s teeth. [9,10]

Some other alternatives include:

  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Melon
  • Apples (without the core)
  • Strawberries

Similar to most things in life, moderation is key. Too much of one type of food can lead to profound health implications. It is best to speak to your veterinarian before giving your dog human foods.

If you’re using treats as a way of training your dog, they can contain high amounts of calories. Try to balance this out by reducing the amount of food in your dog’s main meals.

5. Review your dog’s diet

As we previously mentioned, speak to your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet, no matter how small. 

Switching to some diets can help significantly and help your dog lose weight. Firstly, an option available to you is choosing a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. 

This diet has been identified to help stimulate weight loss in dogs because it causes a calorie deficit while maintaining protein levels in the body. [11]

Most weight-loss diets lead to lean muscle mass loss as well as a loss of body fat. But, with high protein diets, dogs get the benefit of maintaining their lean muscle mass. [12]

You must speak to a vet if your dog suffers from liver and kidney issues due to the high levels of protein contained in these diets. You can cause significant strain on your dog’s liver and kidneys. 

Another option available is to choose a high protein, high fiber diet. This diet uses a similar approach as the diet above. But, it primarily makes your dog feel full quicker due to the high protein and dietary fiber levels. 

Simply, it improves satiety in dogs.

An added bonus is that it prevents your dog from feeling hungry for more extended periods, without the significant strain on your dog’s liver and kidneys caused by the high amounts of protein.

Recent research has suggested that this particular diet is more effective at helping a dog lose weight than high protein or high fiber only diets. [13,14]

6. Have a strict schedule for feeding times 

Dogs are creatures of habit. By having a strict schedule for feeding times, you have more control over your dog’s diet.

Having a detailed schedule for feeding times can help your dog lose weight and condition their body to expect food at certain times in the day.

This can mean less begging too! Wouldn’t it be great to eat some food without those puppy dog eyes glancing at you? As we’ve previously mentioned before, those ‘little’ snacks can add up over time. This can be a cause for your dog’s excessive weight.

A regular feeding routine is thought to help your dog cope with simple changes in your household, providing them with a bit more security. [15]

In addition, leaving your dog’s food out to eat at their leisure is a common feeding practice associated with weight gain. If you’re feeding your dog using this method, it can become easy to lose track of how much food your dog eats and become overwhelmed.

We recommend taking the food away after feeding time.

It’s also worth considering whether your dog tends to feel hungry during certain times of the day. If they do, try dividing their daily food quantities into more meals throughout the day. If you feed them twice a day, try three times instead. 

This is particularly useful for large breeds of dogs. Due to the large quantities of food they consume, if they are primarily fed once a day, this can result in bloating and abdominal discomfort. Bloat can lead to profound health implications such as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus.

7. Help your dog eat slower

Similar to humans, eating slower allows your dog’s body to discover how much food it’s ingesting.

Dogs are opportunistic eaters in nature. So when that food hits the floor, they’ll eat first and ask questions later.

One way to slow your dog down while eating is to make it more engaging for them by turning mealtime into a game. Toys designed for food games and then putting your dog’s meal into it are a great way of doing this.

In addition, this helps with stimulating your dog’s brain.

Another great tip is to spread your dog’s food onto the ground. This results in your dog having to look for its food, making them slow down. Just be cautious not to put their food onto floors with stones or small objects mistaken as food.

Final Thoughts

Your veterinarian remains your best source for information and questions about your dog.

As a dog owner, I hate having to be the party pooper. But ultimately, I have the responsibility to manage and monitor my dog’s health. Sometimes that means doing the right things for them. 

Its vital your dog does not lose weight too quickly as this can seriously harm them. But I hope the above tips will help you maintain your dog’s weight healthily or at least guide you on the right path!

Try our list of 62 foods you can safely feed your dog to discover some healthy snacks to give them in their new diet. 

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James Fuller and Mollie

James Fuller

Founder & Chief Content Creator

I’ve owned a pet most of my life. In fact, I currently have both a cat, Milo, and a Jack Russel, Mollie! I’m the founder of Honest Whiskers. And my mission is to deliver a reliable, trusted website that only uses evidence-based information.

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