How To Put Your Dog On A Diet

Vet Reviewed

By Hungry Bark | October 9, 2020

We all love roly-poly puppies; their little round bellies are adorable and cuddly. Being pleasantly plump is perfectly normal for a puppy. But what do you do when it’s your adult dog that is gaining weight?

Noticing your dog has gained an unhealthy amount of weight can catch you off guard. It might start with the realization that they aren’t keeping up on walks the way they used to, or they may be having more difficulty breathing in warm weather. That’s when you notice the shape of their body has changed, and they’re carrying some extra pounds.

You’ve decided that your dog needs to go on a diet. How do you accomplish this while making sure they stay satiated and healthy? We have advice for you on how to help your dog get back into shape and live their happiest, healthiest life.

When To Put Your Dog On A Diet

You may not know how to tell exactly when your dog is carrying excessive weight. Unless they’re at the vet, you’re not likely to be weighing them frequently, and weight is not necessarily an indication of your dog’s levels of body fat.

Use a “Body Condition Score”

The tool you need is the Body Condition Score. Body Condition uses the shape of your dog as an indication of where they are depositing fat and if it is in a way that is healthy for your dog. 

It’s easy to tell when a dog is underweight. You will be able to easily see and feel their ribs and spine and they may have a sunken look from a lack of muscle mass.

It can be a little more difficult to tell when your dog is creeping into overweight territory. This is partially due to differences in breed and build but is also because most people have no idea of what a dog looks like at their ideal weight. It may be suprisinng to learn that many dogs in the US are overweight or obese. Most often, this is because dog owners don’t have a good understanding of a dog’s ideal weight.

A dog at a healthy weight has ribs that are palpable but not visible. This means you can feel but not see them. You’ll see a visible taper at the waist and an abdomen that is tucked up when viewing from the side.

An overweight dog may still have a slight taper to the waist, but as they go further up the scale, this taper disappears. You will begin to notice fat deposits over the ribs, making them non-palpable, and they will lose the tuck in their abdomen.

The Body Condition Score places a number on the shape of your dog’s body, rating them from 1-9. 1 is an emaciated body that is severely underweight, and 9 is extremely obese. There are various body condition score charts available so you can see how your dog ranks.

If your dog has crept up over a 5 on the Body Condition Score, it’s time for a change in diet. Being overweight can lead to extra pressure on the joints, affecting mobility and putting them at an increased risk for osteoarthritis. They are more likely to develop diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Obesity also puts your dog at an increased risk for certain cancers.

If you are unsure if your dog is overweight, consult your veterinarian, and they will help you better understand body condition and the implications for your pup.

Create a Custom
Meal Plan

FOR YOUR UNIQUE DOG

Diet Dog Food

There are a large number of dog foods on the market advertised as “diet”. This simply means they are lower-calorie than other foods, and they are high in fiber to make your dog feel full, without adding extra calories.

A good quality diet dog food should be nutrient-rich without a lot of excess fillers. Foods high in protein help keep your dog satisfied since diet foods are usually lower in fat.

You don’t need to buy a food branded “diet” to help your dog lose weight. You can also feed them a high-quality dog food with a balanced nutrient profile. High-quality dog food is made with better ingredients and fewer fillers, so your dog is receiving all the nutrition they need, feeling full while consuming fewer calories.

Foods made with fresh, whole meat and superfood ingredients like blueberries, are ideal for the dog who needs to go on a diet. This is why Hungry Bark recipes are ideal for every dog, no matter what their weight. Fun fact: The Turkey & Duck recipe was actually crafted to help dogs reach and maintain their ideal weight! The unique combination of turkey and duck proteins provides your pup with an optimally nutritious meal. Plus, like all Hungry Bark recipes, the Turkey & Duck kibble contains probiotics to support gut health. This is important because maintaining gut health has also been shown to help in weight loss. (read more about gut health here: https://phys.org/news/2017-01-dog-diet-gut-microbiome.html)

If you’re not sure what to feed your dog, Hungry Bark offers a personalized food plan for your dog! The Custom Meal Planner takes only 1-2 minutes to complete and will help you figure out the perfect recipe for your specific pooch!

Combine an Improved Diet with
Exercise for the Best Results

Helping your dog get back into a healthy weight range is easier than it seems. Of course, along with a change to a healthier diet, be sure to incorporate some exercise. You don’t need to add anything fancy. Walks around the neighborhood are great exercise for dogs of all ages. They won’t just benefit your dog, they will benefit you as well, by allowing you time to relax and bond with your dog.



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