Every pet parent wants their dog to be happy and healthy. But sometimes what makes our pups happy, isn’t the best thing for their health.

A few too many treats (for being such a good boy!) or a too-heaping helping of food at mealtimes (she’s hungry!) can quickly have your pet packing on the pounds. If your dog is overweight, you’re not alone. One survey found that some 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Worse yet, many pet parents aren’t aware that their pets are overweight.

That’s bad news for our pups, since extra weight can impact not only on their health and quality of life, it can also mean a shorter lifespan.

Being overweight or obese can lead to joint problems and arthritis, liver and kidney diseases, diabetes, respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and other issues. One study even found that simply limiting a dog’s food intake can actually prolong his life by as much as 15%, or two whole years.

Is your dog overweight?

If you suspect your dog needs to lose a few, here’s how to tell.

  1. Look at your pet from above. Does he have a defined waist or is he more oval-shaped? If he’s more oval, he’s likely overweight.
  2. Can you feel her ribs? They should be palpable but not too prominent or protruding. If she’s overweight, you might not be able to feel them under a thick layer of fat.
  3. Look at your dog from the side. Does his abdomen slightly tuck up? If he’s overweight, he’ll lack an abdominal tuck or have a belly that hangs down.  

Before you put your overweight dog on a diet, it’s best to speak to your vet. Usually, the problem is simply that he’s consuming too much food, but there are certain medical conditions that can cause weight gain.

If you’ve confirmed your dog is otherwise healthy, try these 7 tips to help them safely slim down.

7 Tips to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

1. Determine your dog’s caloric needs

Factors like breed, activity level, age, and whether your pet is spayed or neutered can all affect your pet’s calorie requirements. Puppo will calculate a personalized feeding for your dog based on the information you give us. But monitor your dog’s body condition and if your dog needs a little more or less, let us know and we can change it.  It’s a good idea to recalculate periodically since caloric needs change over time.

2. Track what your dog is eating

Read the label on your dog’s food — there’s no one size fits all when it comes to dog food. Different brands and flavors will have different recommended serving sizes.

Check out the scoop or cup you use to measure your pet’s food. Most feeding guides are based on using an 8 oz measuring cup not a Big Gulp cup! Measure how much food you normally feed and check how much the scoop or cup you use actually holds. You might be surprised at how much a real cup” of food actually is! Puppo provides an 8 oz scoop with your initial order so we can help you to feed the right amount for your dog.

Resist feeding your dog table scraps — in addition to teaching the bad habit of begging, many human foods are not healthy for dogs, and too much can lead to weight gain.

3. Cut back on treats

Log how many treats they’re getting and make note of the caloriest. Experts recommend that treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories. Don’t overlook edible chews like pig ears, bully sticks, or rawhides. These can each add 80-200 calories to your dog’s day.

4. Reduce gradually

If you determine that your dog needs to lose weight, don’t suddenly cut their calories drastically. And before beginning any weight loss program, visit your veterinarian and make sure your pet is otherwise healthy.  Then choose a weight loss diet and follow the feeding guides and any vet advice for a healthy weight loss.  

5. Stick to a meal schedule

If your dog is currently self-feeding, it’s time to pick up the bowl. While some dogs can self-regulate their food intake, most who have access to unlimited food will overeat. Some experts recommend feeding adult dogs twice per day, morning and evening but do what works best with your dog. And feed at the same time everyday. Pets do best on a schedule and it will help you with planning as well.

6. Get moving

Ensuring that your dog gets enough exercise is important both for their weight and overall health. Add an extra walk to your day, head for the dog park, go for a jog together, or play a longer game of fetch. As a bonus, more exercise can mean a calmer and better behaved dog. Win-win!

7. How Puppo helps

At Puppo, we’ve made it easy to give your dog the nutrition they need, with a meat-first, food, that’s free of wheat, corn, soy protein, and artificial preservatives. Each meal is tailored to your dog’s individual nutritional needs including their age, size, activity level, and food sensitivities.

And with recurring shipments delivered straight to your door, it’s even simpler than picking up that bag of kibble, or dealing with expensive frozen meals.

We also have a dedicated canine nutritionist available to answer your questions and support you along the way, so you have the tools to help your dog thrive!