As dogs become overweight and obese, so too does the risk of developing related health problems. A staggering 35% * of all dogs in the UK are overweight – and most owners don’t realize it until they take their pets to the vet for a similar illness. Obese and obese dogs are much more likely to develop health problems like diabetes, respiratory diseases, arthritis, and even behavior problems. Hence, it is easy to see why it is important to carefully monitor your dog’s weight and body condition.
* Source: PDSA 2009
Is my dog overweight?
Your veterinarian can tell you if your dog is overweight during regular checkups. However, it is quite easy to weigh a small dog at home using bathroom scales. Weigh yourself first, then pick up your dog and step back on the scale to measure the difference. This is more difficult for larger dogs. So, if you have a larger breed of dog, you may want to stick to your veterinarian’s scales!
For a more in-depth assessment, use our body conditioning tool. Checking your dog’s body condition is quick and easy and allows you to spend even more time with your pet.
Help Your Dog Lose Weight
Before making any changes to your dog’s diet, speak to your veterinarian as they can advise you on the ideal weight for your dog and how to reach it. For example, the ideal Labrador weight is always different from the ideal weight of a toy breed. So you should know what weight you are aiming for. It is important that your dog is weighed and screened for any underlying medical condition or health problem before you start fighting the flab, as overeating may not cause his or her weight gain to be caused.
Tips for Weight Loss in Dogs
- To help your dog lose weight, increase the amount of energy he burns (through exercise and play) and reduce the amount of energy he eats.
- Table waste and treats are often high in calories. Cut these out and make sure all other family members do the same. Even if it is meant by affection, it still counts as a scam! If you have multiple dogs, feed your overweight dog separately to prevent them from stealing leftovers.
- Try to break up the food into smaller portions and feed them more frequently to reduce hunger and begging, and always keep track of what your dog is eating.
- Your vet may suggest cutting back on the amount you feed or a special low-calorie diet.
- Never starve your dog or limit their food without veterinary advice.
Ask your veterinarian
If, despite increased activity and reduced calories, your dog is unable to lose weight, speak to your veterinarian again, who may want to investigate any underlying medical issues that could cause the dog to gain weight. Your veterinarian’s office may also have a dog weight loss group that can help you monitor your dog’s weight and provide plenty of tips and advice. Successful weight loss in dogs is a slow and steady process, and the secret to success is patience.
Light dog diets
You could also consider a specially formulated “light” food for your overweight dog. “Light” products are lower in fat than regular dog food products, but are fortified with essential nutrients to meet your dog’s needs, even if their rations are reduced. If you are currently on a specific diet for a disease or a sensitive or delicate formula for your dog, you should speak to your veterinarian before making any diet changes.
When your dog is back to his ideal body condition, slightly adjust the amount you give him to stabilize his weight – you don’t want him to keep shedding the pounds! Continue to regularly monitor your dog’s body condition to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
No crash diets
Never starve your dog to get them to lose weight quickly. If you reduce your pet’s food intake by more than 15%, you are not getting the right balance between essential minerals and vitamins that are an essential part of a dog’s diet. If you upset the balance in your dog’s diet, he is at risk of getting sick. So it is important that you involve your veterinarian from the start.
Food is only part of the equation when it comes to helping your dog lose weight. A sedentary lifestyle can often be the cause of weight gain in dogs. Hence, exercise is important to promote healthy weight loss.
Tips for dog exercises
- Increasing your dog’s range of motion is easy and can be very beneficial to an overweight dog.
- A 10 minute longer walk or 20 more minutes of play time each day also means you will be spending more time with your pet, and a few more litters can be as good for your health as they are for theirs!
- Make sure the exercise is intense (depending on veterinary recommendations and the age of your pet), which means your dog’s heart will beat faster!
- Be careful not to do this when the outside temperature is very high or you may risk heat stroke. Never train your dog in very hot weather and avoid the midday sun.
It is always a good idea to consult your veterinarian before putting your dog on any weight loss program, as your dog’s weight is very dependent on his or her health. Not only will your vet help you develop a customized weight loss regimen for your pet, but they can also track progress and provide ongoing support. Many practices have regular weight loss clinics to keep you and your pet motivated and on track.
Purina brands for overweight and obese dogs
Several leading Purina brands offer carefully prepared lightweight diets for obese dogs, each the result of the latest scientific advances in quality, taste, and nutrition, and designed to support a managed weight loss program. Click on a brand to learn more.
Dog weight loss should be gradual – over several months, depending on how much your dog needs to lose – and in some cases can last up to a year. If your dog loses weight too quickly, he can put it all back on. So be patient.