How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight


If you’re concerned that your dog is overweight, you’re not alone. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 50% of dogs in the United States are either overweight or obese. This can lead to a variety of health problems, including joint issues, diabetes, and heart disease. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help your furry friend shed those extra pounds.

The first step in helping your dog lose weight is to consult with your veterinarian. They can help you determine your dog’s ideal weight and create a weight loss plan that’s tailored to their specific needs. Your vet can also rule out any underlying health issues that may be contributing to your dog’s weight gain. Once you have a plan in place, you can start making changes to your dog’s diet and exercise routine to help them reach their goal weight.

Understanding Canine Obesity

If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, you’re not alone. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 60% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity is defined as an excess of body fat that negatively impacts health.


Causes of Weight Gain

Weight gain in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Overfeeding: Feeding your dog too much food or treats can lead to weight gain.
  • Lack of exercise: Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are more likely to gain weight.
  • Breed: Certain breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, are more prone to weight gain than others.
  • Age: Older dogs are more likely to gain weight than younger dogs.
  • Medical conditions: Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, and other medical conditions can contribute to weight gain in dogs.

Health Risks of Excess Weight

Excess weight can lead to a variety of health problems in dogs, including:

  • Joint problems: Excess weight puts extra stress on your dog’s joints, which can lead to arthritis and other joint problems.
  • Diabetes: Overweight dogs are at a higher risk of developing diabetes.
  • Heart disease: Excess weight can put a strain on your dog’s heart and increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Respiratory problems: Overweight dogs are more likely to have respiratory problems, such as difficulty breathing and panting.

Assessing Your Dog’s Body Condition

To determine if your dog is overweight or obese, you can assess their body condition. You can do this by feeling their ribs and looking at their overall body shape. A healthy dog should have:

  • Ribs that are easily felt but not visible
  • A visible waist when viewed from above
  • A slight tuck of the abdomen when viewed from the side

If your dog is overweight or obese, it’s important to work with your veterinarian to develop a weight loss plan that is safe and effective for your dog.

Dietary Management

If your dog is overweight, dietary management is an essential part of their weight loss plan. Here are some things to consider when managing your dog’s diet.

Calculating Caloric Needs

Before you can create a weight loss plan for your dog, you need to determine how many calories they need each day. This will depend on their weight, age, activity level, and other factors. You can use a Resting Energy Requirement (RER) formula to calculate your dog’s caloric needs. To use this formula, take your dog’s weight in kilograms, multiply it by 30, and add 70. Alternatively, you can take your dog’s weight in pounds, divide it by 2.2, multiply it by 30, and add 70.


Choosing the Right Dog Food

Choosing the right dog food is crucial for helping your dog lose weight. Look for dog food that is high in protein and fiber but low in fat and calories. Avoid dog food that contains fillers, artificial preservatives, and other unhealthy ingredients. You can also consider switching to a weight loss formula dog food that is specifically designed to help dogs lose weight.

Portion Control and Measurement

Portion control and measurement are essential for managing your dog’s weight. Use a measuring cup to measure out your dog’s food each day, and avoid giving them table scraps or treats that are high in calories. You can also consider using puzzle feeders or slow feeders to help your dog eat more slowly and feel fuller for longer. Finally, make sure to monitor your dog’s weight regularly and adjust their diet as needed to ensure that they continue to lose weight at a healthy rate.

Exercise and Activity

If you want to help your dog lose weight, exercise and activity are essential. In this section, we will discuss some exercise routines and activities that can help your dog shed those extra pounds.

Daily Exercise Routines

Your dog’s daily exercise routine should include at least 20 minutes of physical activity, twice a day. Depending on your dog’s breed, age, and weight, they may need more exercise to lose weight. For example, many breeds require an hour of exercise a day to maintain a healthy weight.

Walking is one of the safest and easiest ways to exercise your dog. Start with short walks in flat areas and slowly increase the duration and intensity of the walks. You can also try jogging, hiking, or swimming with your dog. These activities can help your dog burn calories and lose weight.

Interactive Play and Training

Interactive play and training can also help your dog lose weight. Play fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek with your dog. These games can help your dog burn calories and improve their physical fitness. You can also try training your dog with obedience exercises, agility courses, or other activities that require physical exertion.


Monitoring Exercise Progress

It’s essential to monitor your dog’s exercise progress to ensure they are losing weight and getting healthier. Keep track of the duration and intensity of your dog’s exercise routine and adjust it as needed. You can also use a fitness tracker or pedometer to monitor your dog’s physical activity.

In summary, exercise and activity are critical components of a weight loss plan for your dog. Daily exercise routines, interactive play and training, and monitoring exercise progress can help your dog lose weight and improve their overall health.

Behavioral Changes

If your dog is overweight, it may be necessary to modify their behavior to help them lose weight. This can be achieved through a combination of feeding behavior modification and encouraging active play.

Feeding Behavior Modification

One of the most effective ways to help your dog lose weight is to modify their feeding behavior. You can start by feeding your dog smaller meals throughout the day instead of one or two large meals. This will help keep their metabolism active and prevent them from overeating.

Additionally, you can try using a slow feeder bowl or puzzle feeder to slow down your dog’s eating habits. This will not only help them eat less but also provide mental stimulation and prevent boredom.

Finally, avoid giving your dog table scraps or human food. These foods are often high in calories and can lead to weight gain.


Encouraging Active Play

Another way to help your dog lose weight is to encourage active play. Regular exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity.

You can start by taking your dog for daily walks or runs. This will not only provide exercise but also provide mental stimulation and socialization.

Additionally, you can try playing games with your dog such as fetch or hide and seek. These games will not only provide exercise but also strengthen your bond with your dog.

In conclusion, modifying your dog’s feeding behavior and encouraging active play can be effective ways to help them lose weight. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet or exercise routine.

Veterinary Intervention

If your dog is severely overweight or obese, it is important to seek veterinary intervention. Your veterinarian can help you create a weight loss plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs and lifestyle. Veterinary intervention may include professional dietary plans and medical treatments for obesity.

Professional Dietary Plans

Your veterinarian may recommend a professional dietary plan to help your dog lose weight. These plans are designed to provide your dog with the necessary nutrients while reducing caloric intake. Some professional dietary plans may also include special weight loss dog food. These foods are formulated to be low in calories and high in nutrients, making them an excellent option for dogs that need to lose weight.

Your veterinarian may also recommend feeding your dog smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. This can help reduce hunger and prevent overeating. Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend adding fiber to your dog’s diet. Fiber can help your dog feel full and satisfied, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

Medical Treatments for Obesity

In some cases, medical treatments may be necessary to help your dog lose weight. These treatments may include medications or surgery. Your veterinarian will determine if medical treatments are necessary based on your dog’s overall health and weight loss goals.


Medications may be used to help reduce your dog’s appetite or increase their metabolism. Surgery may be recommended for dogs that are severely obese and have not responded to other weight loss methods. Surgical options may include gastric bypass or laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.

Remember, it is important to work closely with your veterinarian to create a weight loss plan that is safe and effective for your dog. With the right plan and support, you can help your dog achieve a healthy weight and improve their overall quality of life.

Ongoing Maintenance

Maintaining your dog’s healthy weight is just as important as helping them lose weight. Here are some tips to keep your dog at a healthy weight:

Regular Weight Checks

Regular weight checks are essential to ensure that your dog is maintaining a healthy weight. You can schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s weight and make any necessary adjustments to their diet or exercise routine.

Long-Term Diet and Exercise

Long-term diet and exercise play a crucial role in maintaining your dog’s healthy weight. You should continue to feed your dog a healthy diet that is appropriate for their age, breed, and activity level. Make sure to provide them with plenty of exercise to keep them active and healthy.

Additionally, you can consider incorporating healthy treats into your dog’s diet to help maintain their weight. Vegetables such as carrots and green beans are low in calories and can be a healthy snack for your dog.


Overall, maintaining your dog’s healthy weight requires ongoing effort and commitment. By regularly monitoring their weight, providing them with a healthy diet and exercise routine, and incorporating healthy treats, you can help ensure that your dog stays happy and healthy for years to come.