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How to Help an Obese Dog Lose Weight

How to Help an Obese Dog Lose Weight

An overweight dog may seem like a mild ailment at a first, but if left unchecked, unhealthy weight gain can lead to much more serious health problems like arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulties, diabetes, and bladder cancer.

If you’re concerned that your canine companion is becoming an obese dog, don’t wait for the problem to correct itself. Take them to the veterinarian to get advice on how to help a dog lose weight.

Before that, it helps to understand what’s causing your companion to pack on the pounds.

Weight Gain Causes

There are many easily identifiable causes of weight gain in dogs:

  • Overfeeding. Dogs with unlimited access to food have a higher risk of becoming overweight, leading to the creation of fat cells that stay with your pooch for life.
    Feeding habits - Feeding table scraps and human foods to your dog can lead to obesity.
  • Too many treats. Dog treats should only make up 10% of their overall diet, not used as a substitute for a healthy meal.
  • Lack of exercise. Pets that are unable (or uninterested) in exercising have a higher chance of becoming overweight.
  • Age. Older dogs with stiff muscles and joints are less active and prone to gaining weight.
  • Neutering. Spayed or neutered dogs have a higher risk of gaining weight if they continue to consume high energy meals when their need for energy is lower.

Provide a Balanced Diet

Along with exercise, a reduced fat/calorie diet can help your dog stay fit for longer. Fiber also plays an important role in proper nutrition, since it reduces the caloric density of the food, while still providing sustenance to keep your dog full.

If your dog has a history of putting on pounds, weight fluctuation can become more common. To keep their weight steady, encourage a balanced diet, establish an exercise routine and take them in for regular check-ups.

Exercise for Puppies and Dogs

dog walking in green harness

Providing a way for your puppy or dog to get consistent exercise is key, both to stimulate their mind as well as maintain a healthy weight. By establishing a dog exercise routine, your dog will come to welcome the extra structure and play that comes with an exercise session.

Not sure where to start with your dog’s exercise? Try some of these options:

  • A walk around the neighborhood. Get the whole family involved in a morning or evening walk with your pup. It will help provide exercise and establish loose leash walking skills.
  • A game of fetch. You’ll work on your throwing arm, and your pup will get lots of running in. You can even invest in a ball launcher once your pup is fully invested in this form of play.
  • Visit a dog park. Playing with other dogs or having a larger space to run are just some of the appeals to the dog park. Just be sure your pup is fully vaccinated and is well socialized for these types of situations.
  • Teach them to swim. Swimming is a fun pastime for many dogs. However, some do not enjoy the water as much. If your dog displays signs of being scared or stressed, never make or force them into the water.
  • Enroll in advanced training. Activities like dock diving, agility or flyball can be great dog exercise and can also be strengthen the bond you have with your dog.
puppies playing in dog park

Keep in mind that puppies can tire easily. Even if your puppy doesn't seem tired, it's important to have a stopping point. Dog exercise sessions should be short; around once or twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes is ideal. Also, when training for exercise, repetition and patience are key; give your pup plenty of time and chances to learn specific actions.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, be sure to first check with your veterinarian for recommended next steps and then head to Petco to pick up the right nutrition and dog exercise products for your pup.