Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies

Published by Jaclyn

Updated on

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Spoiling your dogs is just in our DNA as pet lovers. There is such a thing as spoiling your dog too much. This usually results in an overweight dog. Being overweight is just as dangerous for your dog as it is for yourself. Getting your overweight dog to lose weight can be a challenge, but it can be done with proper nutrition, exercise, and direction. In this article, we will discuss some effective strategies for shedding pounds off your pooch. 

Why is it Bad for Your Dog to be Overweight? 

Being overweight poses many threats to your dog’s wellbeing and health. A mere 5 pounds extra can do a number on your dog’s body. The health threats will eventually shorten your dog’s life as well. Overweight dogs are likely to develop one or a number of ailments such as diabetes, joint disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Fortunately, dog weight loss can be achieved with strict owner compliance. 

Overweight dog, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary

The Dangers of Obese Dogs

As mentioned above, there are many diseases that overweight dogs are most likely to suffer from. Let’s dig deeper into this and explain why each disease can shorten your dog’s life:

  • Diabetes– Type 2 diabetes is likely to develop when your pet is overweight. The extra fat tissue in your dog’s body can cause insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism. So if you overfeed your dog or feed them a large amount of low quality food for years –  their body finally can’t keep up, and they develop diabetes.
    Insulin, the hormone released by your pancreas, is what allows blood sugar to enter your cells and be used for energy. With type 2 diabetes, your dog’s body won’t respond normally to this. Your dog’s body will then respond by creating more insulin and more sugar, and eventually, it cannot keep up. Having high blood sugar can lead to many other complications in the body.
  • Joint disease– As your dog grows older, their joints tend to grow weaker and develop complications without any extra pressure. Now let’s add on a bunch of weight for them to hold up. It’s a recipe for disaster. The excess weight adds inflammation, stress, and more work for your dog’s joints to do, which can result in the cartilage breaking down. 
Obese dog, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary
  • Heart disease– Your heart has many significant functions. Pumping blood to the body, ridding the body of waste, to mention some. When your dog is obese, they will require more oxygen and nutrients to supply their body. This will also put your dog at risk for high blood pressure. High blood pressure makes it more likely for your pup to suffer from a heart attack. 
  • Cancer- Obesity can put your dog at a higher risk of getting cancer. Although it is not fully understood wh,y there are few theories behind it. For one, obesity causes more inflammation in the body and demands more cell growth. These cells tend to live longer and can increase the ability for them to spread. In addition, having more fat tissue will require your dog to need more hormones, which can also fuel abnormal cell growth. 

Weighing Your Dog at Home

Being able to get your dog’s weight at home is crucial to track their weight loss. Depending on the size of the dog will determine how you weigh them. If your pup is on the smaller side (10-12 pounds), you can invest in a baby scale.

Westie weighing in, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary

 If your dog is bigger than that, you can use a standard digital- or regular scale. If you can pick up your dog, you can simply weigh yourself and then weigh yourself holding your dog. You then subtract the combined weight from your weight to get your dog’s weight. 

Dog Weight Chart (Body Conditioning Chart)

By looking at your dog’s attitude and overall physique, you may not be able to tell if they are overweight or not. Ask your veterinarian to thoroughly examine your dog and let you know if your dog needs to shed weight or not. 

Using a Body Conditioning Chart (BCS) is an important and valuable tool in assessing your dog’s weight status. It’s essential to have your veterinarian see and feel your dog to assign a score. The scores range from 1 to 9, with 1 being the thinnest and 9 being obese. 

Below is a visual chart that will help further decipher BCS.

unnamed I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

Top Exercise Tips During Dog Weight Loss

It’s no secret that diet and exercise are the key to weight loss in any animal. But, getting your dog to exercise can be tricky. Below is a list of smart tips to get your pup to move it:

  • Put the food bowl up the stairs, so they have to go up and down to get their meal.
  • Go on walks.
  • Make a designated time to play their favorite game and get them moving.
  • Feed their breed. Look back at what their ancestry says they like to do and play on that.
  • Start small. Don’t expect your pup to run 6 miles on day one. Start with 15-20 minutes and build-up towards that.
  • Before expecting your pooch to get up and move around make sure their joints are in decent shape. They will be much more reluctant to exercise if they are in pain.
Couple walking dog, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary

Six Steps of an Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategy

We don’t know about you, but we need a plan whenever we want to reach a goal—having a strategy will ensure that you make small attainable goals and get your dog to a reachable weight. 

**Below is a general guideline only and is not meant as a substitute from your veterinarian’s specific recommendations.

Step 1: First things first. Measure your portions! We’re amazed how time after time, when asking owners how they portion their dog’s food, they use a cup. Not a measuring cup, an actual cup. 

This is often much more than the suggested portion. With the help of your veterinarian, go over what the appropriate amount to give your dog is. Of course, you will not just cut your dog’s portion in half; you’re going to need to start slowly so they can ease into it. Find out more about dog food on Dog Food Haven.

Your dog is likely to beg for food. Try giving small meals more frequently to keep your dog satisfied without overfeeding them. You can also offer fresh water at the time of begging or divert their attention to a walk or a game. 

Dog begging for food, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary

Step 2: Now that you have the amount down, picking a diet is vital. Along with the help of your veterinarian, pick out a diet that is low in carbs but high in protein. Adding canned food to your dog’s diet can also help keep them full longer but with fewer calories involved. There are many options in the market today that fall under this category. 

Step 3: Exercise! Get your dog outside and on the move! Go on walks, hikes, run in the yard, play a game. Even get the whole family involved. Getting healthier can be a group effort and is good for everyone. 

If your dog suffers from joint disease and/or arthritis, try swimming. If you do not live near a pool or have warm weather year-round, look for doggy gyms around you. 

Step 4: Pick healthy high reward treats. Pieces of raw vegetables can help suffice your dog’s urge. When you need to reward them, you can even try a piece of their dog food but make sure you include it in your total tally of food they get for the day. 

Step 5: Use nutriceuticals to ensure your dog’s joints and health are in order. A comfortable dog will be more willing to run around, and in turn, able to lose weight. 

Step 6: Get everyone on board. For this to work everyone involved in your dog’s feeding process needs to be on the same page. Often, at least one culprit is tossing your dog some table food when no one is looking. Speak to your family and friends, and explain to them that this is for your dog’s health and that not feeding them table food is helping them live longer. 

Homemade Pet Food Recipes

Cooking for your dog can be a fantastic alternative to ensuring they get proper nutrition with the right amount of healthy calories. However, it is taxing on the average person, and it is essential to work with a veterinary nutritionist to make sure your dog gets all the daily vitamins they need.  

We’ve listed two samples of recipes that you can try before diving into it permanently. You can also use a combination of homemade food with dog food but make sure you are not overfeeding. Another important key point is to make sure you are using all safe ingredients for your dogs. 

Blending the ingredients together will also help a picky eater from eating only certain ingredients. It is also essential to make sure all your pet’s needs and nutrients are met. 

Dog eating dry dog food, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary

Chicken Medley Dinner 


  • Skinless chicken breast – 10 oz no seasoning
  • Brown rice
  • Broccoli- ½ bunch
  • Carrots- ½ cup 
  • Peas- ½ cup
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbs
  • Psyllium Powder- 2 tbs


  1. Remove skin from chicken and bake/ steam it. Make sure you do not use any seasoning. After the chicken is cooked, cut it up into small pieces.
  2. Cook rice by following the instructions on the packet.
  3. Steam broccoli, carrots, and peas. 
  4. Mix vegetables with diced up chicken. 
  5. Add olive oil, mineral oil, dog vitamin, and psyllium powder to the cooked dish. 
  6. Weigh the dish and portion properly for your dog’s daily calorie intake. 
  7. Store remainder in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Homemade dog food, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary

Tuna and Veggies


  • Canned tuna (1-2 cans drained)
  • Cauliflower- 1 head
  • Green beans- 1 cup 
  • Potato- 1 peeled  
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil- 2 teaspoons 
  • Psyllium powder – 1 tbs


  1. Dice and steam vegetables. 
  2. Mix canned tuna with diced vegetables.
  3. Add olive oil, mineral oil, dog vitamin, and psyllium powder to the cooked dish. 
  4. Weigh the dish and portion properly for your dog’s daily calorie intake. 
  5. Store remainder in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Golden retriever eating food in bowl, Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies - I Love Veterinary


Tackling dog obesity and shedding the pounds can be a challenging feat. However, it can be done! Your dog will shed the pounds quickly with the help of your veterinarian and some strict hard work. 

Remember, it does not happen overnight, so consistency is key. Remember the end goal and keep in mind that your dog is a living being and will have good and bad days. 

Taking the step to implement weight loss pushes your dog in the right direction for a healthier life. 

Effective Dog Weight Loss Strategies I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

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Jaclyn is a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) who has a bachelors degree in journalism. Combining her two interests of writing, and veterinary medicine is a true passion. Jaclyn has already created her own blog called The Four Legged Nurse. She is blessed with two children, a wonderful husband, and four devoted fur babies. In her free time she loves spending time with her family, reading, and riding horses.


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