Quick Tips to Treat Obesity In Dogs

January 4, 2022

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  • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

Obesity in dogs is a major problem in the United States. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) reports that over half of U.S. dogs are overweight, with approximately 25% of them considered obese.

A big part of the problem? Many dog owners don’t even realize their dog is overweight. To our adoring eyes, our pets are beautiful at any weight—and we have to admit, a little padding can sometimes raise their cuddle-appeal.

Unfortunately, all it takes is a few extra pounds to cause damage, so keeping Fido at their ideal weight is one of the best things you can do for their health. If you’re concerned about your pet’s weight, talk to your vet. They can assess your dog and help you develop a safe diet and exercise plan. They can also rule out underlying medical disorders as the cause behind your dog’s weight gain.


What are the health risks associated with obesity in dogs?

According to VCA Hospitals, dogs are considered overweight when they’re 10–20% over their ideal body weight. At 20% and up, they’re considered obese.

Obesity in dogs isn’t just about looks—even an additional five pounds can contribute to serious health complications in our furry pals. Overweight dogs face a higher risk of developing the following health problems:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary bladder stones and urinary tract disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Heat intolerance
  • Complications with anesthetic
  • Skin issues

Left unchecked, obesity can trigger diseases like hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), and tracheal collapse. It’s also a quality of life issue: Heavy dogs have less energy, more aches and pains, and respiratory complications. That gives us all the more reason to take weight loss seriously.

Which dogs are prone to obesity?

The propensity to pack on pounds can strike at any age, but obesity tends to affect middle-aged dogs between 5–10 years old. Brachycephalic, or flat-faced breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs often struggle with weight, as do less active breeds like Basset Hounds and Dachshunds.

Genetics also come into play here, with some breeds more known for tipping the scales than others. Obesity is often seen in:

  • Pugs
  • Basset Hounds
  • Dachshunds
  • Beagles
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • German Shepherds
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Rottweilers
  • Newfoundlands
  • Chihuahuas
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Dalmatians


How to help your overweight dog lose weight

We’re happy to report there’s no shortage of ways to help your dog slim down. Before jumping on any new weight loss program, however, it’s smart to first clear things with your vet. They can help you pinpoint your dog’s ideal weight and come up with a safe strategy to help them shed the pounds—and keep them off!

1. Assess and adjust your dog’s diet

To keep your dog’s nutritional needs balanced, ask your vet for healthy dog food recommendations and guidance on portions. The key here is consistency: no extra kibble, and avoid excessive treat-giving (we know it’s hard!) As long as your vet gives the go-ahead, you can reward your dog with healthy bites of fresh or frozen broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, apples, or plain canned pumpkin.

2. Step up your dog’s exercise routine

You don’t need to be a workout maniac to reap the benefits of exercise: an extra walk around the block or a few extra minutes of fetch will do. Make sure your dog’s routine reflects their age and ability. Senior dogs won’t have the stamina of their younger counterparts, and all dogs can benefit from gradually building endurance.

3. Be patient and stay consistent

Remember: it’s all about baby steps. Even small amounts of weight loss can make a difference, as demonstrated in a 2010 clinical trial that showed a correlation between minimal weight loss and symptom relief in arthritic dogs. In other words: keep at it, and your dog’s health will thank you.

Obesity in dogs is a slow and subtle threat. Many dog owners consider their pooch’s extra pudge completely normal, failing to recognize the serious health risks it poses. The good news is that once you identify obesity as a problem, you can start to work towards a solution.

These eight tools will simplify your dog’s weight loss journey, helping them to achieve their weight loss goals—while staying comfortable along the way.