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How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Overweight? Warning Signs Your Dog Is Overweight and Easy to Follow Dog Weight Loss Guide

Updated on October 15, 2019
Healthyannie profile image

I love dogs and have owned several different breeds. Keeping a dog is a challenge and I love to share my easy canine dog health tips.

How to help your dog lose weight safely
How to help your dog lose weight safely

How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight Safely

Canine obesity is one of the most common health problems in dogs vets come across on a regular basis. In recent years, canine obesity has increased at an alarming rate. The health effects of overweight o obesity on a dog are just as serious as for humans. Our canine friends are at risk from heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many other health conditions when they are overweight. Some breeds are more at risk of experiencing problems with obesity than others.

At the same time, it is important to recognize that we are responsible for our dog's health. They need the right kind of food to thrive, and the correct amount of exercise to keep healthy. Not that very different from us humans when it all comes down to it.

Today, it is estimated that at least 50 million dogs in America are too fat.

What You Need to Know About Canine Feeding Habits in the Wild

We should never lose sight of the fact that dogs have been domesticated by humans. In the wild, dogs are omnivores. That means dogs eat almost anything to stay alive. This is the need we humans need to learn to control when it comes to our canine friends. Their natural food sources are high fat and high calorie. Dogs are programmed to eat as much as they can in one go. They are simply programmed to do so. In the wild, they don't know when they are going to eat again, so they always “fuel up”.

The habit of eating as much as they can at one-time stay has stayed with our domestic dogs. This is one of our reasons dogs are at risk from weight gain. We need to help to control our dogs' feeding habits. This means feeding at the right time and making sure the food we feed our dogs is nutritionally correct. When your dog receives the right kind of nutrition, he or she is less likely to have a weight problem.

Obese dogs are less active.
Obese dogs are less active.

How Can I Tell If My Dog is Overweight?

Some dog owners may not notice weight problems in dogs. When a weight problem is picked up early, it is much easier to deal with quickly and effective. Before you start any dog weight loss program, it is a good idea to take your dog to your regular veterinarian for a health check. Your dog may have a digestive disorder which is causing his weight problem. For instance, dogs that have internal parasites can look overweight with a bloated stomach.

Top 7 Warnings Signs Your Dog is Overweight

  • When you can't feel your dogs ribs, your dog is overweight or obese

  • Has your dog lost its “waist”? Your dog's shape should taper in just before the hip the bone. When it doesn't your dog, is likely to have a weight problem.

  • A round belly

  • Is your dog finding it hard to get up and out of its basket? Another indication your dog could be carrying excess weight.

  • Does your dog pant a lot when it is out exercising? This is a sign excess weight could be putting a strain on your dog's heart and lungs.

  • Have you had to let out your dog's collar? A further indication your dog may be gaining weight. Stop, check your dog's diet and exercise routine.

  • Reluctant to exercise

    You may also notice that your dog sleeps more.

What Are the Most Health Problems Suffered by Overweight Dogs?

Sadly, many owners fail to appreciate obesity is a major problem in dogs. They think their canine companions look cute and cuddly. He or she may look healthy enough, but just like us humans, your dog may not be feeling too well.

The Top 5 Health Problems Suffered by Overweight Dogs

  • Diabetes – dogs can develop diabetes just like us humans
  • Arthritis and joint problems – very common health issues in overweight dogs
  • Heart problems – extra strain put on the heart
  • Lung problems – excess weight makes it harder for obese dogs to breath
  • Skin problems – sores can more easily develop in dogs if they are overweight and lay down a lot.

Do overweight dogs die sooner? Obesity in dogs can lead to more veterinary expenses and a shorter life span.

An Easy To Follow Dog Weight Loss Guide

How many calories should my dog eat to lose weight? That is the question many dog owners ask themselves. You will find counting calories is more or less a waste of time when it comes to helping your dog lose weight. It also depends on how active your dog is on an everyday basis. A younger dog will need to have a higher calorie intake than a more senior dog.

Instead of focusing calories, think about your dog's food allowance instead. If your dog should eat 300 grams ( 10.58 ounces) per day, that is the total food allowance per day. The food allowance should include both main meals and snacks. We all love our dogs but we should make sure we feed them the right amount and take snacks into consideration.

6 Top Tips to Help Your Overweight Dog Lose Weight

  • Measure out your dog's food allowance once a day and include snacks

  • Add healthy fruit and vegetables

  • Stay away from canned dog food – unless it is organic it may not be very healthy and contain off-cuts of meat.

  • Healthy proteins for dogs include fish and chicken. Cooking your meat to add to your dog's kibble is a good idea. I don't oven bake anything – I steam all of the meat which I feed to my dogs.

  • If your dog finds it hard to digest vegetables, you should consider steaming them. When you steam food, you don't add anything to it. You also preserve more nutritional value to the food.

  • Don't rush your dog's weight loss routine. It is not about getting your dog to lose weight fast. Helping your dog to lose weight safely is what you should be doing.

Other top tips for canine weightless include adding supplements to improve your dog's digestion.

The 10 Breeds Most Likely to Become Fat Dogs

Basset Hound


Cocker Spaniel


English Bulldog

Golden Retriever

Labrador Retriever




Unfortunately, some of these dogs are the most popular dog breeds in the United States. Perhaps there is no or little surprise that over 50 million dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.

The Most Popular Dog Breeds in the United States

Click thumbnail to view full-size
German ShepherdBeagleYorkshire TerrierPoodleRottweilerFrench Bulldog
German Shepherd
German Shepherd
Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier
French Bulldog
French Bulldog

Most Popular Pet Dogs in the United States

Dog Breed
Correct Weight
Labrador Retrieve
55 - 80
German Shepherd
65 - 90
Golden Retriever
55 75
French Bulldog
Bull Dog
50 - 40
20 - 30
Depends on breed standard
80 - 135
Yorkshire Terrier
7 - 12
German Short Haired Pointer
45 - 60
Basset Hounds are more likely to be obese than other breeds.
Basset Hounds are more likely to be obese than other breeds.

Can Exercise Help My Dog to Lose Weight?

If your dog is very overweight, you need to start exercising your dog slowly. Try to increase your dog's exercise a little bit every week. Your dog may not be getting all of the exercise it needs in the dog park. To most dogs, the dog park is much more of a social experience.

Just like us humans, dogs benefit from cross exercise. If you get your dogs' exercise right from the start, it certainly helps. However, it is never too late to introduce your dog to exercise. Look around you will find there are probably lots of exercise classes around your area. Popular cross exercises include:

  • Agility

  • Swimming

  • Walking

  • Frisbee throwing

Dogs of all sizes can enjoy cross exercising. Even a small dog can take part in agility classes. Interactive toys are great when it comes to helping your dog lose weight. As every dog owner knows, all dogs love to play.

How to Train Your Dog to Play Fetch

Active Dogs Vs. Less Active Dogs

Some dog breeds are more prone to obesity problems than others. When you choose a dog, it is important to take your own lifestyle factor into consideration. How much time do you have to dedicate to your dog and how active are you?

If you are a very active person, you should go for a dog with a high activity level. However, if you are not very active, choose a dog which does not need a lot of exercise.

The table below will give you some idea which dog breed to choose. It is better, to be honest with yourself and get things right from the start. Choosing the wrong dog for you and your family means that you may end up with problems later on.

Best Vegetables, Supplements, and Protein for Your Dog

Best Vegetables for Dogs
Best Supplements
Best Protein
Milk Thistle
Lean Ground Beef
Brewer's Yeast
Fish Oil
Coldwater Fish
Cottage Cheese

Are You Concerned About Your Dog's Weight? Take Him to a Vet

Take your dog to the veterinarian if you are concerned about his health. Dogs can put on weight for all sort of reasons. He or she may have digestive issues such as liver problems and even parasites. Dogs with intestinal parasites can appear fat as the parasites give them a bloated look. It is important to get this checked out.

Liver disease and digestive health problems are not uncommon in dogs at all. Some dog kibbles are packed with additives that can make it difficult for your dog to digest the food. You can easily make your own dog kibble or opt for buying a more natural dog kibble.

Dogs love to be active
Dogs love to be active

How to Personalize Your Dog's Weight Loss Program

To help your dog to lose weight, you need to get organized. Think about how you are going to approach the problem. Once you have come up with a weight loss program for your dog, make sure that you stick to it. Helping a dog to lose weight is often a challenge and you need to be patient.

You don't want to change your dog's diet all at once. It can upset his stomach and make him ill. It is better to make slow changes spread over a month.

Start by adding extra exercise slowly. Add an extra few minutes of extra exercise every day or even slower if your dog has some sort of health condition. Eventually, he will start to lose weight. Forcing your dog to lose weight can have adverse consequences. A dog that has suffered from obesity for a long time may end up with joint problems and muscular strains. The last thing that you want is for your dogs to end up on inflammatory drugs which can slow down weight loss.

Above all, make it fun for your dog's weight loss journey fun. Dogs love being active and helping your dog to lose weight, may even help you to get a little bit fitter at the same time.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2019 Annie Messeri


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