Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to Help Overweight Dogs

It has been estimated that 55% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese, which can alter the lifestyle and health of our best friends.  Recently, my sister experienced this firsthand when she thought there was something seriously wrong with her beloved Tigger.  After a trip to the vet, reporting Tigger as lethargic and not wanting to do anything but sleep on the bed, turns out, Tigger is overweight.

I have gathered some information for my sister and the millions of others just liker her who are wondering, "How do I put my dog on a diet?"

1.  Watch the Food
Feed the right amount. This should help guide you. Then use an actual measuring cup to feed.  It might help to feed two or three smaller meals to help your dog feel more satisfied.  Don't let your dog free feed.

2.  Change the way you view treats
It's hard to get rid of treats totally (although you may have to) especially if you use them to train.  However, you do have some options.  Try veggies as treats.  Dogs usually love carrots, cut up apples, and most fruits (not grapes). You can also try stuffing fruits and veggies mixed with some plain yogurt in a Kong and freeze it as a healthy treat.  These options are low in calories and will be more of a treat for your dog than a Milkbone that gets gulped down!

3.  Get your pooch movin!
Think about creative ways to incorporate exercise into your dog's day.  I am a huge fan of treat dispensing toys.  I've written about some of them for Yahoo! Answers. I also have a list of my favorites here.  These are great for a many reasons.  But the best reason for a plump dog is because he/she is using physical energy to get his/her food, and because it will help satisfy him/her a little more.  Chasing a toy around just to get dinner burns some major calories for a little body!
My favorite food dispensing toy: the TreatStik

You can also teach your dog some new tricks.  If you spend 15-20 minutes a day on a new skill and reward with low calorie treats, you are bound to shed some pounds.  Get creative and get moving!

4.  Forget about people food
I see so many people giving their dogs bites of their food.  If you have an overweight dog (and really even if you don't), there isn't any real reason to do this.  Our food is filled with calories that dogs just don't need!  Stick with feeding them their own food and treating them with healthy people food if you must.  The less human food you can keep out of their mouths, the better.

5.  Consider a change in dog food
I, personally, don't think this should be the first thing you do if your dog is overweight.  I think if you do the first 4 things successfully, you should be ok.  But according to this article in The Whole Dog Journal, feeding a higher protein dog food could help you manage your dog's weight.

*I am not an expert on this subject, but I do know the basics of losing weight (for dogs or humans): less calories in and more calories burned.  This, of course is somewhat of an oversimplification.  The key here is that you are in control of what goes into your dog's mouth.  Making sure that your pup is active enough to shed those few extra pounds can be fun for both of you and can bring you closer together.


  1. Great post. I think a lot of folks equate food with love. (I know I do.) So I always want to give a little bit of whatever I'm having to Rita. (Luckily she is SUPER picky, so she doesn't want most of what I'm having - unless it involves meat or cheese.) It really is important to understand how many calories you're putting in the pup and how many he/she is burning.

    You should also have your sis check out SlimDoggy.com!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! You are right; food does equal love for so many of us.

  2. We don't think calorie in vs calorie burned is an oversimplification. That's how we're approaching it with Allie. And with kitties it has to come off SUPER slow, or they risk liver disease. (She thinks we're torturing her, BTW - MOL!).