It is believed that approximately 56% of dogs in America are overweight or obese, which can lead to various illnesses and a shorter lifespan. Owners are often to blame as they feed their dogs too much, usually through love, but also don’t give them enough exercise. Pet parents should take charge of their dog’s diet, cut down on treats, and get them more active. That said, it’s important to involve a vet to understand what to feed an overweight dog and to know how much weight they need to lose.

1. Replace treats

Dog treats are often full of calories and owners tend to give too many in addition to larger than necessary meals. Treats can be ideal for rewarding good behavior and teaching tricks, but swap them for things like carrot, banana, and cucumber that are lower in calories and just as enjoyable for your pooch. Many owners give treats just to show their dog how much they love them, but this is a slippery slope that can easily lead to weight gain, especially in breeds that tend to gain weight easily, such as Labradors. Owners should swap this practice for giving their dog lots of toys and attention instead as this will get dogs moving more and they’ll be just as happy. Lots of different toys on a regular basis will keep dogs interested and active.

2. Take charge of Fido's diet

Ensure that Fido is getting the right amount of nutrients from the content of their diet. Research foods to find which is the best fit for your dog. Homemade meals for dogs make owners feel good as they know exactly what they’re feeding their furry best friend and it’s nice to see them enjoying something they’ve made. However, ensuring dogs get all of the nutrients they need from a homemade meal can be difficult as it can be hard to know how many calories they’re eating. For owners feeding homemade meals, it’s important to thoroughly research what nutrition their dog requires and how to feed them it. Opting for high-quality, store-bought dog food is often the best way to feed a dog, especially an overweight one that is trying to lose weight.

3. Create an exercise routine

In most cases, an overweight dog is caused by eating more calories than they need and not moving enough. Some dogs may benefit from a food designed for losing weight, while others may simply be eating too much and just need smaller portion sizes. Either way, this food intake should be matched with an exercise routine designed by you and your vet. Owners should speak to their vets to find out how much weight their dog needs to lose and the best way to do so. Vets may be able to offer regular weight checks, measuring cups for food, and handy tips for getting your pup to move around. Pairing this with regular exercise should help the weight come off an overweight dog at a sustainable and healthy rate.

4. Talk to your vet

Overweight dogs are becoming more common, but the effects on a dog’s health can be detrimental, so it should be controlled as soon as possible. Involve your vet in decisions to alter your dog's diet and routine. Owners should  understand exactly how much their dog should be eating and how much weight they have to lose, so ask the experts!