Helping an Obese Dog Lose Weight

Even dogs can be obese and for veterinarians, obesity in our canine companions is a major problem for vets and pet parents. For some dogs, caloric restriction and exercise alone help your dog lose weight and minimize the health risks of arthritis, diabetes and other chronic health issues that occur more frequently in overweight dogs. However, some dogs, just like humans, have a harder time losing weight and becoming a healthier pup. Here are a few vet-approved suggestions that can help your dog be healthier and achieve a healthy weight that lets your dog lead his best and longest life possible.


Daily Calorie Limits Are Serious Canine Requirements

Dogs that need to lose weight have two things that should be considered law in order to be successful at losing those extra doggie pounds. You need to know what your dog’s daily calorie maximum is and you need to stay under that number of calories for your dog to lose weight. To burn fat and reduce weight, the number of calories a living creature must eat must be lower than the amount of calories a dog uses. The total daily calorie count of a small dog is even more mission critical to be precise with for successful weight loss of an obese dog. For a toy or miniature breed dog, every extra kibble matters and small breeds can be easily overfed. Well-meaning and otherwise perfect pet parents can easily overfeed even large breeds of dogs

If you don’t know the caloric limit that your dog needs to eat to remain healthy but to lose excess weight, your veterinarian is your partner in keeping your dog healthy and will help you determine your dogs current weight, goal weight and how many calories your barking friend needs to eat to have the right nutrition but still get back to a good body weight if they are not where they should be.

An online tool to help you if you know your dogs weight already is the online calculator at the Pet Nutrition Alliance website to help you calculate the calories your dog requires. Once you know the number of calories for your dog, you can use the AAFCO nutritional information of your dog food and divide accordingly. You can always call your vet to help you with any problems of concerns as well.

Once you know the total daily calories by the kcal/cup of the dog food you use, that will give you the number of 8 ounce cups of food to feed your dog each day. If there is a fraction, you should always round down to prevent extra calories that can add up from rounding up nutritional counts. You also have to include your pets daily treats into their calories count each day. Doggie treats can be incredibly calorie rich and have a lot of fat from the bacon, peanut butter and other special things dogs love that are high in calories and can pack on the post-puppy pounds.


Join The “Sorry, You Can’t Clean My Plate” Club

People food is for people. If you eat bacon every morning and always make a few extra strips of delicious “meat candy” for your dog, you’re causing him more harm than good unless your dog is a work dog like those who pull the Iditarod sleighs and have extra caloric needs. Yes, you may think that having breakfast together is a way to add healthy fats that will improve your dog’s lustrous coat, but you’re also giving him calories he does not need. Sharing food with our dogs is a way we bond with our pets but it can also make our pets unhealthy. People food calories count as well. If you have a dog that serves as a prewash for the dishwasher and let your dog lick your plates after a meal, your dog is getting additional calories from those scraps and condiments left on the plates. You can chose one of two options if your dog needs to lose weight, include the people food you give them in the calorie count each day or better yet, don’t let your dog be a dishwasher. Not letting your dog be the dishwasher also is safer for them as they will not risk exposure to foods that may contain things that are dangerous or poisonous for dogs like xylitol and other ingredients.


Food Sneaking – Play Calorie Detective

If you have children, they will drop food and the dog will find it. Children can even sneak dogs the food off their plates they don’t want to eat. Well-meaning visitors with doggie treats they drop also are extra calories. If you have more than one dog and the tubby canine is going about licking your other pets bowls clean and having a snack from the cats bowl as well, these are reasons why your dog might be having a hard time losing weight. Dogs can’t resist a treat and love to eat. Dogs rarely refuse food unless ill. You may have to see if your dog is finding a way to sneak food or has a human accomplice, even if an adorable toddler, that’s keeping them in less than healthy form. If you have a dog on a diet for his health, you need to make sure that your own family members are not undermining the goal. One person should be responsible for feeding the dog and the entire family needs to understand and agree to not sneak treats and those extra calories into your dogs diet.  One way to ensure that your family is working together to ensure your dogs best interests is to portion out the daily dog food in Ziploc baggies or small containers and once your dog eats it, there is simply no more food. Once the daily food portion is gone, the food is all gone for the day, no matter how much begging and sad faces the dog makes. The Food is ALL GONE for that day. No negotiations for even a single treat or morsel of kibble.


Special Diets

Dog food technology has come a long way, especially when it comes to prescription and special diets. Specially formulated dog foods like Hill’s Prescription Diet metabolic weight management dog food have helped many dogs lose weight. If your dog is not losing weight despite increased exercise and reduced calories, a dog food designed to help a dog with weight control can be an asset. Not all dogs can lose weight on a balanced and complete nutrition adult maintenance food diet even with reduced calories.  These metabolic diets provide additional nutrients like L-carnitine to help a dog burn fat. These diets also still deliver complete and balanced nutrition despite the reduction in calories, which is not true of feeding your dog, reduced amounts of regular dog food. To ensure your dog gets proper nutrition when dieting, a weight loss dog food makes sure that they get the nutrition without the extra calories instead of reducing both calories and taking risks with providing your dog less of the essential things they need for health by cutting food amounts back.


See a Vet When Needed to Check for Metabolism Problems

Most dogs can reach their weight-loss goals within three to six months of increased activity and caloric restrictions.  If you have followed these methods and the scale is not budging, it’s possible your dog may have a hormonal condition that is to blame for his weight gain and inability to lose any weight despite diet and exercise. Just like humans, dogs can have health issues that effect their weight. Health conditions like Cushing’s syndrome or sluggish thyroids are common hormonal problems that can make it hard for a dog to lose weight. If after 3-4 month of treatment at home for obesity and no weight loss occurs, an appointment with the vet to check your dogs hormones may be needed. Prescription veterinary medication can treat the hormone condition and allow your dog to become a healthier dog again. 

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight lets him be active and enjoy his life and be the best friend he wants to be to you.



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