Tips to Help an Obese Dog

20 June, 2020
A dog's physical health is fundamental for their overall well-being. If we're not careful, it's very easy for a dog to develop things like heart problems or arthritis. Providing them with a healthy diet and making sure they get enough exercise are really crucial.

Sadly, just like with humans, obesity in dogs is becoming increasingly common. But the good news is that you can help an obese dog to get healthier through exercise and a proper diet. Read on to find out more tips.

Obesity in dogs

Aside from just the way they look, avoiding obesity is important for many reasons, not least avoiding certain diseases like diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, or liver or heart problems. The two main causes of obesity in pets are a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle – just like with people.

If you only ever take your dog out to relieve themselves for five minutes and you’re constantly giving them leftovers from the table, it’s going to be very difficult for your dog to keep their weight down.

A hound being taken for a walk, which is a good way to help an obese dog.

This means that to help an obese dog – or better yet, to stop them from becoming obese in the first place – it’s we who need to change our habits.

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is whether your dog needs to exercise more or eat less. Whilst both options are effective, it’s true that reducing calorie intake is the most effective, even if you maintain the same level of physical activity.

Tips to help an obese dog

As it’s often said, actions speak louder than words. So, let’s get straight down to some specific steps that you can take to help your dog lose weight.

1. Establish how overweight they are

Try to establish objectively if your dog is really obese. Sure, to you, they’re the most beautiful animal in the world, but you need to take this seriously. First of all, are their ribs, spine or shoulder blades visible? No? Well, then at least you know that they’re not malnourished.

An overweight dog looking at the camera.

But can you easily feel those parts of their body? If the answer is also no, then it means your beloved dog is probably overweight. Weigh them and check with the vet about what is considered a normal weight for their breed, size, and age.

2. Give them less food

If your dog is obese, then your vet will be able to help you develop a diet that’s best for their needs. This way, you can keep them well-fed without feeding them too many fats or carbohydrates.

Many pet stores sell low-calorie dog food which is ideal.

A white labrador eating dinner.

If you feed them homemade food, be sure to add some cooked vegetables (check with your vet about which ones are appropriate) and be especially careful with portion sizes.

We recommend that your dog eats a little in the morning and then again in the afternoon or evening. You should avoid giving them treats or leftovers at other times of the day.

3. Exercise to help an obese dog

You can exercise with your pet too and take advantage of the opportunity to get moving and enjoy the fresh air. It doesn’t need to be for a long time. Twenty minutes a day will be plenty.

An obese dog sitting on a worktop.

If you can, add some games one or two days a week where your dog has to run a little. Throwing a ball or a stick is a great example.

Be very careful about overdoing it. It’s important to remember that, if your dog is obese, their heart will have to work harder and they are likely to tire sooner.

4. Monitor their improvement

Another way to help an obese dog is to be consistent and commit to a specific weight-loss target.

An obese dog sitting on the grass.

You could keep a diary, writing down their weight each day and the amount of exercise they do, etc.

If possible, weigh your dog once a week and pay close attention to how they feel. Do they seem tired and lacking in energy? Do they seem sad or depressed? Or do they seem happy and ready to exercise?

You might find it difficult at first not to give them leftovers all the time. In fact, you may even get nervous about underfeeding them. But, little by little, they’ll get used to the change, and you’ll soon see your little friend’s weight and health start to improve.