Dog Weight Loss Advice

We all know the importance of exercise and a sensible diet for our own health, but we don't always realise the same applies to our pets. Balancing the nutritional requirements of our pets with a suitable level of exercise according to their fitness is the key to success. Taking your dog out for at least two walks a day will help maintain their fitness and keep them occupied. After all it's not just physical but also mental stimulation that they need.

Remember - exercise should be started at the level your dog can cope with that won't risk injuring him or her. Build up the quantity and intensity of exercise as they get fitter. If your dog has a medical condition such as arthritis, heart disease and so on, speak to your vet regarding a suitable exercise programme.

1. Feeding factors

Below are listed some of the factors that should be considered when considering starting a weight loss programme:

  • What type of food is being fed?
  • How much is being fed?
  • How often is it being fed eg. ad-lib vs. once daily or twice daily?
  • How many and what type of treats/leftovers does the dog receive?
  • Who usually feeds the dog - one person or several (resulting in accidental double rations!)?

2. Exercise Factors

Less active owners generally have less active dogs. Maximising the amount of calories expended during exercise is vital for a weight loss programme. A lot depends on the type and duration of exercise. The take home message regarding exercise is that the prevalence of obesity declines in proportion to the duration of daily exercise. If you are exercising little and often, try extending it to longer and often.

3. Weighing your dog

Visiting your vet

You should regularly keep track of your dog's weight to ensure that it is healthy. If you are unsure about the desired weight of your breed then just ask your vet. If you are going to embark on an exercise programme with your dog it is always a good idea to get your dog seen by your vet first. He or she will be able to advise whether your dog has any conditions that mean that certain types of exercise are not suitable.

If you are starting the Kennel Club's Get Fit With Fido Challenge it is required that you have a note of your dog's starting weight (it may be that your dog's weight is just right and if you are giving it more exercise you may need to up its calorie intake accordingly).

Weighing at home

You may want to keep track of your dog's weight in between visits to your vet.

If you have a small dog then you can do this at home. To weigh a small dog first weigh yourself then weigh the dog while you hold it and subtract the difference from your combined weight. Use a reliable set of scales such as digital scales or old fashioned magnet-type scales which don't have digital readouts.

Keeping track

Last of all (and vitally important) is to keep a chart of the dog's weight. You can use your Get Fit With Fido record card (link to this in tools) to keep track of your dog's weight over time. Ask your veterinarian how much your dog should weigh according to the dog's activity level, fitness and age.

Top tips to bear in mind when exercising

  • The importance of providing the right kind of exercise for your dog 
  • Water - make sure your dog is hydrated
  • Weather - In the summer try to avoid intensive exercise during the hottest period of the day
  • Dogs on leads - If you are walking your dog then remember to keep it on a lead in places where there are hazards
  • Warm up and down 
  • Clean up after your dog - Responsible dog owners have an obligation to clean up after their dogs so ensure that you keep poo bags with you at all times.


More information

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