Diet Tips to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

Most people know how hard it can be to shed a few pounds, and for a dog keeping excess weight off can be an even bigger challenge. In most cases, a dog won't see overeating as a problem. In nature, food is scarce, so even domesticated dogs think they have to fill up their bellies whenever food is available. This natural instinct, while helpful in the wild, can be counterproductive when your dog has access to food on a regular basis.

Most of us love to spoil our dogs with large meals and frequent treats. While this might seem harmless at first, it can lead to a wide range of health issues if you’re not careful. That’s why you need a good plan of action to get your dog's weight under control before any adverse health conditions become irreversible. Read on for some helpful diet tips for getting your dog's weight under control.

Count Calories

As the old saying goes “Calories in, Calories out,” and this is still some of the best weight loss advice for both dogs and humans alike. That means if your dog isn't burning at least the same amount of calories as he consumes, he will store any surplus calories as body weight, which for the most part will end up as excess fat.

If your dog needs to lose weight, then you will have to feed him fewer calories than he requires to meet his daily energy needs. Your dog's activity level, age, and weight can all play a role in how many calories he will need each day. If you need an easy way to figure out how many calories to feed your dog, you can enter your dog's weight into this dog calorie calculator to find your answer.

Once you know how many calories your dog will need in order to lose weight, you will have to keep feeding him that amount of calories until he reaches a healthy weight for his breed. After that, you can slowly increase the amount of food you give him until you get his calories back up to their maintenance energy requirement (MER). Going slow and being diligent can keep your dog healthy and active, and it can also prevent him from gaining back any of the weight he has lost.

Meal Timing

Most people like to feed their dog at least two times a day. The first meal most dogs eat is usually early in the morning before we leave for the day. The second meal is usually given to them in the evening right around dinner time. This meal schedule makes it easy for us to feed our dogs based on our daily activities, but it might not be the most natural way for a dog to eat.

Recent studies on animals and humans have found that periods of fasting can have a positive impact on weight loss. Fasting for a 16 to 20 hour period has been found to reduce blood glucose levels, and it can also help increase fat metabolism.

These prolonged periods of fasting more closely mimic the availability of food most animals experience in the wild. These periods without food allow the body to burn stored fat, instead of relying on blood glucose as a ready source of free energy.

Feeding your dog larger meals less often can allow them to burn more fat and to lead a longer, healthier life. The best way to do this is to feed him more in the morning, so he has ample energy throughout the day. Then try to feed him less or nothing at all in the evening, so his body can switch over to a fat-burning mode while he rests.

Limit Treats

Treats and table scraps are one of the little things that most people tend to overlook when they wonder why their dog is overweight. We all love giving our dog treats as a reward, or just as a little snack during the course of a day. Then when we sit down for dinner it can be hard to resist giving your dog a little piece of leftover meat.

While doling out treats might seem like a benign thing, all of those extra calories can add up over time. If your dog is overweight, cutting out snacks and treats can be one of the easiest ways to reduce their daily caloric intake. In some cases, removing those few extra calories each day can be all it takes to finally get control of your dog's weight.

Mark Young is an avid pet lover and writer on When he is not writing, he spends his time taking care of his wide assortment of pets, and he also volunteers his time at local animal shelters.

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