Steps to a Healthy Dog Weight
The VCA Big Pet Project can help you achieve and maintain your dog’s ideal weight.
Quick reminders to keep your dog at a healthy weight
Keep a close eye at feeding times
Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s personalized nutrition plan!
Treats can be very high in calories, so they can have a big impact on your dog’s success! Lower calorie treats are available.
Keep your dog active!
Go for regular walks or get active in other ways, like playing fetch, running with other dogs, and even swimming!
Monitor your dog’s weight
Keep a record of your dog’s progress, and have regular weigh-ins with your veterinarian.
Nutrition Tips for Dieting Dogs
Ask your veterinarian
for a diet plan geared towards your
dog’s specific needs and state of health.
Dog food labels can be confusing. Your veterinarian can help you decipher the information and choose food based on ingredient quality and the right balance of nutrients for your dog’s stage of life.
It’s not about simply feeding your dog less of the same food—the nutritional content may not be adequate.
Ask your veterinarian how many calories you should feed your dog each day, and then measure portions to match.
Replace high calorie treats with low calorie options like diet treats. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake, and food should be reduced accordingly.
Precede meal times with short exercises so your pet ‘earns’ the meal. Try squeezing in a short walk for your dog or have a treasure hunt to find a hidden treat.
Break treats into smaller pieces. Your dog will enjoy the reward regardless of size.
If you’ve enabled begging in the past, now is the time to break the habit. Your dog will learn the difference between your dinner time and his/her own once table treats are no longer available.
If you use human treats, like cheese, to administer medication remember to reduce the next meal by a similar number of calories.
A small human treat such as a potato chip translates into a much larger treat when given to a dog.
Ask your veterinarian how to maintain your dog’s ideal weight once you’ve achieved it—some breeds are obesity-prone and require smaller meals than you might think.
Exercise Tips for Overweight Dogs
Before you change your dog’s exercise routine for weight loss ask your veterinarian for a safe regimen that’s appropriate for your dog’s present condition.
Overweight Dog Tool
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Take your dog for brisk walks, not strolls. Aim for 12-15 minutes per mile, but if your dog is new to walking or very overweight, start with 25 minutes per mile and increase gradually.
Keep your leash short and only stop for toilet breaks, not to smell the roses.
Get your dog moving with 15 minutes of active playtime twice a day. Keep it interesting by mixing it up…include tug toys, tennis balls, Frisbees or treasure hunts (hide a low calorie treat so your dog has to find it).
Make your dog walk to his/her food bowl by keeping the bowl away from favorite snoozing spots.
Hide-and-seek is a great indoor exercise that many dogs love. Hide and whistle for your dog.
Visit the local dog park regularly, or search online and try different ones.
If your dog loves the water, add supervised swimming to his/her exercise routine.
Obesity in Dogs
Today’s pet population is mirroring the weight issues of the human population—and the health risks that go along with it.
Our pets are packing on the pounds and it’s not cute. 46% of dog owners don’t realize their dog is actually overweight3 and don’t understand the risks that extra weight poses to their pet. In reality, a dog’s weight impacts their overall health, longevity and quality of life.
But there’s great news:
Overweight or obese dogs that return to their normal weight may once again enjoy lively activities and could even experience the reversal of some weight-related health conditions.
What can you do about your dog’s obesity?
With help from your VCA veterinarian, you can prevent your dog from becoming overweight, and if it’s a little too late for that, your dog’s added weight can be reduced. Before starting your dog on a diet or exercise program, consult your VCA veterinarian for a proper diagnosis, and to get the right diet for his/her age, body condition and general state of health.
2. Ward E, Budsberg S, Bartges J, et al. Big Pets Get Bigger: Latest Survey Shows Dog and Cat Obesity Epidemic Expanding, 2012.
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3. 2012 National Pet Obesity Survey Results, Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)