How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight? 13 Achievable Tips for Obese Dogs

Reviewed by Dr Hannah Godfrey
Last updated on
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In this post, I’ll take a closer look at obesity in dogs and explore some of the possible causes. I’ll also outline 13 weight loss tips to help your dog lose weight.

How to help your dog lose weight?

As a dog owner, have you ever wondered if your furry friend is a little chubby?

If you’re like most dog parents, you probably want your furry friend to be as healthy as possible. And if your dog is overweight, then it’s time to take action!

Obesity is becoming a common problem in dogs, and it’s something we should all be aware of.

Dogs in the USA are among the most obese in the world, and this is seriously impacting their health. About 56% of American dogs are overweight or obese, according to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

That’s a lot of pups carrying around too many extra pounds!

Whether your pup is significanlty overweight or just starting to gain some extra pounds, just follow these 13 weight loss tips, and you and your furry friend will get on the road to a healthier lifestyle!

prevalence of obesity in American dogs
Overweight and obese dogs in the US

What are the risks of obesity in dogs?

Excess weight can lead to a host of health problems for dogs. As with people, dogs that are obese are more likely to suffer from several health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory problems
  • Joint pain
  • Cancer

As well as causing certain health conditions, obesity can also worsen existing or unrelated health conditions. So, if you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, it’s important to do something about it. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help your dog lose weight.

What can I do to help my dog lose weight?

Losing weight is hard.

It takes time, effort, and dedication.

But what if you could make it a little bit easier on yourself and your dog?

What if there was a way to help your dog lose weight without too much extra work on your part?

There is!

By following a few simple tips, you can help your furry friend shed those extra pounds.

#1 Increase your dog’s physical activity

Regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for dogs as well as humans. 

If your dog is carrying around extra weight, increasing their physical activity can burn extra calories, helping them to slim down and improving their overall health.

You can increase your dog’s physical activity and get your furry bud’s body in shape in many ways. 

There’s no need to bring your dog to the gym to start losing weight 🙂 

You should incorporate physical activity depending on your dog’s breed, age, and general health.

For starters, you could begin with short intervals of walking to prevent injuries. Start by exercising with your dog for 15 – 20 min, twice a day. 

Later, when the dog is in shape, you can gradually increase the intensity and length. Then you can try more frequent and longer walks. 

In addition to walking, you can try other outdoor activities that will stimulate your dog, relieve boredom, and help them forget about eating, such as running, playing ball, or swimming. 

All of these activities are good for a dog’s cardiovascular health and musculature as they increase their metabolic rate and keep lean body muscle mass.

#2 Focus on a high protein and low carbohydrate diet

When you’re feeding your dog foods that are full of carb-based fillers, you’re not helping them to lose weight. 

And many commercial foods today rely on starches that increase calories but not nutrition.

On the other hand, dogs fed high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets may lose more body fat than those fed a low-protein diet. 

According to a recent study, a high-protein diet has potential benefits in reducing body fat in dogs while maintaining lean muscle mass.

This diet promotes greater weight loss in both humans and dogs.

You don’t need to reduce the calorie content of your dog’s diet.

Instead, change the macronutrient value of your dog’s diet from low-carb to high-protein food.

This type of diet can help to promote weight loss by reducing the amount of fat stored in the body and promoting lean muscle mass.

Furthermore, a high-protein diet can help to keep your dog feeling full, so they’re less likely to beg for food or snacks between meals. 

When selecting a high-protein diet for your dog, make sure to choose one that is high in quality proteins and low in fillers and empty calories. 

You should also work with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate caloric intake for your dog based on their age, breed, weight, activity level, and health.

#3 Look for a high protein, high fiber diet

This diet is similar to a high-protein diet but introduces dietary fibers to make dogs feel more satisfied. A HPHF diet helps with weight loss by slowing the absorption and increasing the feeling of fullness in a short period (the weight loss is faster).

Eating more fiber will help suppress your dog’s appetite, it will keep your dog satisfied for longer and he/she won’t be as hungry as on a regular diet. 

The HPHF diet may also prevent your dog’s body from absorbing some of the calories from the food he/she eats.

Your dog will lose weight more quickly with this diet than dogs fed high-fiber or high-protein diet alone, according to a study published on PubMed.

Certain herbs and spices are safe for dogs and could even help keep your dog healthy. Read more about spices good for dogs.

#4 Keep the water bowl full

Keeping your dog’s bowl full of clear and fresh water will encourage them to drink more and feel fuller. 

But, sometimes your dog may refuse to drink as much water as you think they need. 

If this happens you could add a little water to their dry kibble or top their kibble with wet food

However, be sure to monitor your pet’s health because this mix of food and large amounts of water could induce discomfort or bloat.

Feeding a fresh diet without carb-based fillers will reduce overall calorie intake and help your dog lose weight more healthily. 

Of course, offering fresh water before feeding will help to satisfy cravings and make your pup feel full.

#5 Always feed at the same time

Creating a regular feeding schedule and sticking to it is a good idea. Having a regular feeding plan during the day will help your pet friend overcome hunger and adapt to their new diet more easily.

When you’re feeding your dog at the same time of the day you’re creating a routine for them and their circadian rhythm will let them know when it’s feeding time. 

This way, dogs create habits and their appetites adapt. In short, this may help reduce your dog’s begging behavior and help them lose weight.

#6 Feed multiple times a day

You’re not doing your dog any favors if you leave their food bowl down all day. 

Dogs are very much like people in that they overeat out of boredom.

Many dogs who are fed ad lib become overweight which leads to other health issues. Even worse, the food may attract insects and rodents or go rancid in hot weather.

On the other hand, dividing their daily portion into two or three meals per day will help stop your dog feeling hungry between meals and help them maintain their ideal weight. This is crucial for large dogs because they require more calories than small or medium breeds, but small-breed dogs and puppies can have trouble maintaining their blood sugar, so more frequent meals are also a good idea for them.

Feeding your dog multiple times a day also promotes regular bowel movements, and means that you can track the amount of food consumed more easily as it’s more predictable.

#7 Don’t free-feed your dog

Dogs are not gourmands, but many of them overeat when they have unlimited access to food. 

Overeating leads to obesity which contributes to joint, lung, kidney, and digestive problems. Therefore, you need to closely monitor how much you’re feeding your canine friend and take the food away once the mealtime is over.

Feeding at the same time and amount of food will help to keep your pooch regular and their gut settled.

#8 Cut back on treats

Many dog owners use highly processed high-calorie treats as rewards for training purposes. 

This might be a problem if you need to manage your dog’s weight. If your canine companion needs to shed a few pounds, maybe it’s time to switch to low-calorie treats or look for some healthy alternatives.

Adding fresh chopped apples, strawberries, melon, carrots, frozen peas, broccoli, green beans, celery, or asparagus to their diet can be a good alternative to all those high-carb treats. Many veterinarians recommend reducing dog treats to only 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.

Also, avoid giving chocolate to your dog because it is highly toxic.

#9 Follow the recommended daily amounts on the food packaging

Every dog owner needs to consider several factors when determining ideal caloric intake, including breed, weight, activity level, and the dog’s body condition. 

If you correctly follow the guidelines on the side of your dog’s food packaging you’re unlikely to overfeed your canine companion. 

However, most dog owners often end up overfeeding because they are not sure of their dog’s accurate weight or because of vague suggested portion sizes. If you’re not sure whether the recommended amount is per portion or per day, ask your veterinarian.

The first step would be to know your dog’s weight, which is especially important for small-breed dogs. 

You don’t want to feed your pet three or four of the suggested amounts per day when the recommended portion on most food packaging is for the whole day. Split the suggested amount into meals or you will feed them more than they need. 

Also, keep in mind that spayed or neutered dogs need less energy than unneutered dogs, because their reproductive system is no longer using calories for processes like sperm production, ovulation, and cycling. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines may, therefore, cause neutered dogs to gain extra weight.

#10 Pay attention to how much you’re feeding your canine friend

Sometimes it is not a good idea to rely on generalized feeding recommendations because every dog is different. It’s possible that feeding two similar dogs the same amount of food would cause one to gain extra weight and not the other. 

Every dog is an individual and has unique metabolic needs. Check the feeding guidelines for different dog breeds and speak to your veterinarian if you are unsure.

If using a measured portion try reducing the amount by five to ten percent of the recommended amount.

A more precise way to help you know how much you need to feed is to enter your dog’s age, lifestyle, and body condition score (BCS) into a reliable feeding calculator to determine exactly how much of a specific food type you should feed your pup. Be aware, though, that these are only meant as a guide. A dog’s BCS is measured on a scale from 1 to 9, and dogs rated 5/9 have an ideal body weight, while very obese dogs have a BCS of 9/9.

#11 Reward your dog with fun

If you want to help your dog get into shape you need to stimulate them physically and mentally. On many occasions, just a simple walk or playing with your furry friend would be enough to distract them from begging for food. 

Instead of offering too many treats as a reward, it’s better to introduce as many non-food rewards as possible. Simply head-scratching, belly rubs, some kind words, or a round of fetch might be enough of a reward for a happy dog.

It’s okay to use high-protein treats sometimes, but if you need them for everyday training then low-calorie raw vegetables (that are pet-safe) are a better option. 

#12 Use slow-feeders or interactive food puzzles

One way you can slow your dog’s eating is to add water to their dry kibble. But, once you realize that dogs are opportunistic eaters you might consider including food toys in your feeding arsenal. 

There are many products on the market today that you can use to help your dog feel fuller, faster. Slow-feeding bowls are designed in a challenging and enjoyable way that will help slow your dog’s eating and stimulate them mentally at the same time.

Creating food puzzles for your canine companion to solve could be great exercise too. 

Spreading food onto the floor is always a popular way to get your dog to be more active while looking for their food.

You can easily incorporate all of the above methods into your feeding routine to slow an obese dog’s eating.

#13 Rule out medical problems that could contribute to dog weight gain

If you’ve implemented any method mentioned above and your pooch still looks like a German sausage maybe it’s better to talk to your vet. Your dog’s excessive weight could be a symptom of hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome.

To rule out any medical condition and help your pet friend lose weight, it’s best to talk with your vet.

How to Help your dog lose weight – bottom line

If your dog is overweight, there are a few things you can do at home to help them manage their weight. However, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian if you need help getting started or want more individualized advice for your pet. 

They may recommend a specific diet and exercise plan that will work best for your dog, and together you can get them back on the path to good health. 

Remember, obesity in dogs can lead to serious health problems, so don’t wait until it’s too late – start helping your furry friend today!

Photo of author


Sal is the founder and editor of Dog Food Point and an avid dog lover who is passionate everything related to dogs. With over 20 years of experience as a passionate dog lover and expert in dog nutrition, Sal is committed to sharing valuable information and advice to promote happy, healthy dogs. When he is not playing with his pooch Tara, Sal spends most of his time reading, writing, and cooking for his dogs.