If you’ve ever dieted, you know what a bummer it can be. Eating less of your favorite foods and cutting out fattier (read: delicious) fare can make you feel glum. The same goes for your dog. Though it might be tough to turn down your furry friend when they give you puppy eyes and begs for treats, it’s the most loving thing you can do for them. #adulting

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, excess weight can reduce your dog’s life expectancy by more than two years. You read that right, two years!, which is a big deal when your loveable pup has a lifespan of 12-ish years. Pets at a healthy weight have a lower chance of contracting diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, and some forms of cancer. They also have less chance of injuring joints, muscles, and bones. So...we think it’s worth working on, even if it’s not much fun.

If your dog is overweight, they’re certainly not alone. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reports that in 2018, an estimated 56 percent of dogs in the U.S. were obese or overweight.

Ok, so what to do about it? A healthy overweight dog diet plan includes serving your pooch high fiber, low-fat diet dog food, as well as minimizing fattening treats. If you’ve tried a diet plan in the past for your pup with little to no success, these dog diet tips are likely to help.

Determining If Your Dog is Overweight

To see if your dog needs to lose weight, use the Body Condition Score (BCS). This system provides an accurate way of evaluating your dog’s body fat. It features a scale of 1-5, with 1 being very thin and 5 being obese. Here’s how to determine your pet’s BCS:

- Check their waist. Is it defined or oval-shaped? The more bulk in this area, the heavier your dog is.

- Feel their ribs. If they protrude, they are on the thin side. If the ribs are hard to find, it’s time for a diet.

- Examine your dog from the side. Does their belly hang? Then they’re obese. If their belly tucks up slightly, they are a good weight.

    This article gives more specifics for determining your dog’s BCS score.

    Weighing your dog is also a good idea. Use a pet scale. To ensure accuracy, make sure your dog sits or stands in the center of the scale. 

    Or, if your pooch is pick-up-able: weigh yourself (without the dog) - the number doesn't matter! Then, weigh yourself while holding your dog. Subtract the two and that’s your pup’s weight. 

    Make the Transition to the Right Food for Your Pup

    The best way to help your dog lose weight is to see that they’re eating the right type of food. The best diet dog food is low in calories and high in fiber. The latter helps your dog feel fuller longer. Such foods also have increased protein content and less fat.

    At Puppo, our personalized weight loss plan can help you determine the best diet for your dog and the right way to feed it. We all know that losing weight is not just about what we eat, but how much of it (turns out portions do matter...bummer!). Our quiz calculates a personalized feeding regimen for your pooch designed to keep them at the optimum weight.

    How Many Calories Should Your Dog Eat To Lose Weight?

    The amount of calories your dog eats to lose weight will depend on a variety of factors. These include how much your dog weighs now and how much weight your dog needs to lose. It’s not safe or advisable to cut back drastically on calorie intake. A gradual, phased approach is best. Dogs can safely lose about 3 percent of their body weight a month. You may find it helps to use a dog calorie counter.

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    Make Sure To Measure Food

    Guesstimating portion sizes can backfire. In order to serve the correct amount of food at each feeding, use measuring tools, such as the Puppo scoop found in your first order.

    Limit Treats… Or Anything That’s Not Their Designated Food

    Though it might seem harmless to give your pet a few treats, the calories add up quickly, especially when you consider other “treats” like table scraps. A treat is anything your pup eats that’s not their food. So, those PB&J crusts, dropped potato chips, and dinner-plate-licks really do matter.  It’s best to ensure that your dog’s treats constitute no more than 10 percent of their daily caloric intake. The Puppo plan calculates how many calories you can offer your pet in treats each day so you can have an idea of what a healthy amount of treat calories actually looks like. 

    All that said, treating is important! It’s how we show our pets love and how we get them to do things we want (training, bribery, potato, potahto). So when you dole out goodies, choose healthier dog treats. Good choices include cooked low sodium vegetables and your pet’s regular food disguised as treats. For instance, make meatballs out of wet food and freeze them. Baby carrots are also deliciously crunchy and make for a pretty portable snack.

    Make Sure They Get Some Exercise

    In order to maintain a healthy body and weight, your dog needs regular exercise. If you’ve gotten lazy recently (who, me?), it’s time to put some more walks or trips to the dog park into the routine - not just the “let out the back door to pee” situation. This will keep their metabolism moving and help ensure good digestion and elimination (ideally, something that can be picked up).

    In addition to walking, there are many fun activities to enjoy with your pup. Anything active you can do for 20 to 30 minutes a day will provide your pet with the opportunity to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. Check out this blog post to determine how much exercise your dog really needs.

    Bring In The Experts

    Trying to help your dog lose weight can be overwhelming. Clearly, there are a ton of factors to consider. With the right guidance, however, establishing a weight loss plan for your pup can be more than just simple, it might also be, dare we say, a little fun.

    Puppo’s quiz helps us determine the best plan for you and your dog so that we can provide recommendations that are practical and easy to implement. On our blog, we also have a ton of recommendations for pup-friendly adventures and play, which also happens to be great for weight management.