How to Help Your Overweight Dog Lose Weight

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Want to know a simple secret that can help your overweight dog lose weight? And live longer, too?
Dog Overweight
To be successful, every weight loss plan must be based upon one simple principle

Dogs that consume fewer calories than they burn lose weight

Simple, right? Yet if weight loss was truly that easy, why are so many pets overweight?

An Epidemic of Overweight Dogs

Today, dogs are fatter than ever. It’s now estimated that 45% of all U.S. dogs are either overweight or obese.1

That’s 35 million dogs.

What’s worse, obesity can be life-threatening, too. An overweight dog is more likely to suffer from a disabling medical condition like…

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Cancerous tumors

Add Two Extra Years
to Your Dog’s Life

A recent study proves that dogs maintaining ideal body weight live almost two years longer (and with significantly less disease) than their overweight siblings.2

An overweight dog is more likely to die at a younger age

In other words, you can add nearly two extra years to your dog’s life just by maintaining your pet’s ideal weight.

A Couch Potato Eating Machine

Unfortunately, many fail to recognize a fat dog.

Veterinarians report that although nearly 50% of all the dogs they see are overweight, only 17% of pet owners agree.

It can sometimes be difficult for an owner to admit her 80 pound dog is 20 pounds overweight — not just “big-boned”.

Every day I hear pet owners comment, “How can he be overweight? He hardly eats anything”.

Obesity is frequently indicative that our dogs are sedentary, couch potato eating machines burning almost no calories.

The Solution

The obesity equation is actually very simple. Dogs that consume more calories than they burn gain weight.

So, to lose weight…

Your dog must eat less — and exercise more

That’s all there is to successful weight loss. Best of all, if you work out together, exercise can be great for you, too.

The Goal
Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

Start your plan by knowing your dog’s ideal weight. Not only can your veterinarian help you do this, but she can also screen your pet for certain conditions that can contribute to obesity…

  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Hypothyroidism

You can also visit the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention for some suggested weight ranges for specific breeds.

How to Calculate Calories
for Weight Loss

Once you know your dog’s ideal weight, you’ll be able to discover the amount of calories to feed your dog daily to achieve steady weight loss.

Use the Advisor’s dog food calculator to determine this important number.

While most dogs will experience predictable weight loss when fed this amount each day, others may require even fewer calories. This can depend on a dog’s age and activity level.

The Problem with a Dog Food Label

Label recommendations are designed for weight maintenance… not weight loss. Following these instructions will likely lead to continued gains.

To control weight, you must know how many calories are in a cup of food. Then, feed according to calories.

Also, if your dog is severely overweight, your vet may need to help you design a custom weight loss program for your pet.

The Wrong Way to Feed a Dog

Many dogs are fed free choice — which means food is available 24 hours a day. So, the dog eats whenever it wants.

Free choice feeding is completely unnatural for any mammal. And (just like us humans), a dog will eat when bored — instead of just when hungry.

What’s more, free feeding can contribute to unnatural hormonal changes — which can make weight loss even more challenging.

And the Right Way

A dog should be fed two to four small portions a day. And the total number of calories for all meals and treats must equal the number of calories desired for weight loss.

If your schedule makes it difficult to follow this strategy, there are timed automatic feeders that can help your pet get the right amount of food.

And only at specific times.

Don’t Guess — Measure

It’s critical to actually measure your dog’s food. Never guess. Use an 8 ounce measuring cup… not a coffee cup or a food scoop.

Then be sure to dispense the exact amount of food called for in your calculations.

The Trouble with Most
Weight Loss Foods

Although there are many foods marketed for canine weight loss, not all are created equal. Products described as “diet”, “lite” or “reduced-calorie” may not be the best choice.

Many of these recipes replace meat content with high levels of carbohydrate fillers. This creates a low-calorie, bulky food that helps your dog feel full.

But only for a short time. Some aren’t very tasty and most tend to cause an increase in stool production.

These products can lead to dogs who are constantly hungry. Many times pets even gain weight due to the difficulty of staying on track in the face of persistent begging.

Most regular maintenance diets are high in calories (usually between 450 and 550 calories per cup or per can) making it easy to overfeed your pet.

Less Food — More Begging

While weight loss can sometimes be achieved by feeding less of your dog’s regular maintenance food, you’ll find you must feed very small amounts to achieve the reduced number of calories required to lose weight.

This leads to a pet that may feel less satisfied and begs more.

What to Look for
in an Ideal Weight Loss Product

For successful weight loss, choose a quality dog food with…

  • Above-average protein3
  • Below-average fat4
  • Below-average calories5

A higher protein content helps a dog feel more satisfied with less begging. This makes it easier for you to stick to the diet.

These products also help combat muscle loss… an unwelcome side effect with dieting.6

Lower calories allows your dog to eat more and still lose weight.

Weight loss is often easier to achieve by adding canned food to your dog’s feeding regimen.

Canned products usually have higher protein, lower carbohydrates and fewer calories compared to a similar sized quantity of kibble.

It’s also possible to achieve a good high protein weight loss diet by combining a high quality commercial dog food with low-calorie home-cooked foods. This should be accomplished with the help of your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist.

Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.

Forty percent of American adults do not participate in any leisure time physical activity. So, no doubt our dogs are just as sedentary.

In humans, physical activity has been proven to

  • Aid in weight loss
  • Lessen heart disease
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Decrease the risk of diabetes
  • Control anxiety and depression
  • Reduce the risk of certain cancers
  • Slow bone loss associated with advancing age

We can probably expect many of these same benefits for our pets.

So, get your dog moving. Take a walk. Run. Play fetch. Swim. Climb the stairs. Provide at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise every day to facilitate weight loss.

How to Monitor Your Dog’s Weight Loss

Monitor your dog’s progress. Weigh your dog at least every 1 to 2 weeks. Using the recommended guidelines, overweight or obese dogs should lose about 1% to 2% of their body weight each week.

If your dog is not losing weight, the daily calories may need to be restricted further.

Also make sure no one in the house is cheating by giving extra food or treats.

Once You Reach Your Goal

Once the ideal weight is reached, the amount of food your dog is eating will likely need to be increased.

It’s important to continue weighing and monitoring your dog for any future change in weight.

So, keep a log. And make any necessary adjustments throughout your dog’s life to maintain an ideal weight.

My Recommended Dog Foods
for Weight Loss

To see a list of my current recommendations, be sure to visit the Advisor’s article, “Dog Foods for Weight Loss“.

Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM is a renowned, board-certified Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist.

Dr. Donna Spector

Dr. Spector has written and lectured extensively on topics including animal nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and kidney failure. She is widely acknowledged for her role as consulting veterinarian to Halo, Purely for Pets and her TV appearances with The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Dr. Spector’s online consulting service offers personalized and tailored medical, nutritional and weight loss consultations for owners of both dogs and cats.

She provides professional advice relating to urinary disorders, liver problems, immune diseases, intestinal issues, diabetes, asthma and other breathing conditions, hormonal problems and other internal medical complaints.

Footnotes

  1. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, Calabash, NC
  2. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 220 No. 9, May 1, 2002, pp. 1315-1320
  3. Average protein: 29% (dry) and 40% (canned)
  4. Average fat: 16% (kibble) and 23% (canned)
  5. 250-350 calories per 8-ounce cup kibble or per 13-ounce can
  6. Diez, M et al (2002), “Weight Loss in Obese Dogs: Evaluation of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet”, American Society for Nutritional Sciences, Journal of Nutrition, 132: 1685S–1687S, 2002
  • aimee

    Thanks for the update.I really do appreciate it. You’ve been absent here for a longer time interval than previous absences …. hope all is well with you and your family.

    Glad to hear Audrey is stable. Do you know what any of her numbers are? I remember she hates the vet so I didn’t know if she had any testing done when she was ill.

  • Dori

    Fabulous news Shawna. So happy for you and Audrey.

  • Shawna

    Hi aimee,

    Thought I’d report, Audrey made a comeback. I’m still giving her some canned kd but I’ve started adding raw back in. The bulk of the meal is raw goats milk (by volume at least). I do add about a tsp of pumpkin seed oil for its fat soluble chlorophyll content but I have been able to stop the additional chlorophyll given.

    I’m beginning to wonder if a kidney infection was the cause of her previous decline. She did have some minor symptoms of a UTI. Probiotics and d-mannose were given which resolved the symptoms (or maybe just a coincidence).

    She’s been back to her old self for about five or six weeks now. I’m very slowly increasing the raw and will see how it goes.

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  • https://onedogorganic.com Veronica Glynn

    Thank you for this valuable information. We are trying to spread the word about canine obesity & what our pet parents can do to reverse the process. Would it be okay to provide your canine a healthy, nutritious treat that is only 3 calories per treat? They are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients such as Omega fatty acids, calcium, potassium and complex carbs. Of course we would be sure to include these as part of the daily caloric intake but I thought it might be a nice change of pace for a dog that is on a rather strict diet.

  • Chrissy Blair

    if its only eating a cup a week it would be a very sick baby

  • Ashley Dodd

    The comparison was high protein vs. high carb, not high fat vs. high carb.

  • Cyndi

    That’s what I’m hoping Dori!

  • Dori

    Has to be wrong Cyndi. Hope they come back and correct their post.

  • Cyndi

    You only feed your dog a cup of dog food a week? That has to be a misunderstanding on my part…..I hope.

  • kelssy Davies

    I have a question please I have a staffie dog who is turning 9 he neverhad a waight problem Iintill 3-4 years ago now he only eats a cup of dog food a week specialty and it is recommend by my vet so he can loos weight but he hovers after my children I have now stopped this a month ago the vet says he is 4 stone over weight he has four walks a day between ten and twenty minits to behonest we try but he hasto stop to breath he wont swim he loves walls but hes so tierd on the walk he only manages half a mile prer walk he has been tested for medical condisions but there r none please reply thanks

  • aimee

    Hi Shawna,

    I understand that quality of life is what is important. High PTH affects not only longevity but how the dog feels. High Phos in part drives high PTH. So as I understand it dogs with high phos feel worse than if phos is controlled.

  • Shawna

    My goal with Audrey has always been quality of life over quantity. So, as long as she still LOVES eating and loves her food I’ll make it as enjoyable for her as I can.

    The chlorophyll has already started helping pink up her gums so going to continue with that for now. :)

  • aimee

    Thanks for clarifying… since the post you responded to seemed to focus on protein /exercise I thought you were responding to that.

    Glad Audrey felt better after fluids, and is eating well and tolerating the KD. If she needs restricted phos the Love may be too much for her….
    Did you have blood work done?

    If the reason she looks pale is d/t anemia there can be several causes for this: decreased production ( kidneys not calling for more rbc’s) increased loss: GI ulceration or shortened rbc life due to uremia.

    Blood work may help sort it out.

  • Shawna

    Hi Aimee and thanks!! :)

    Been super, super busy but mostly I can’t easily see recent comments while on my phone any longer… Which is 90% of what I use/d. Before this newest mobile update, if I saw something I wanted to reply to but couldn’t, I’d take a photo or bookmark it so I could reply when at a computer.

    Regarding Storm’s Moms post and my liking/agreeing — I kinda thought it would be evident to you (and those that know me) that it is the carbohydrate portion of the debate I’m agreeing with.

    Thought I’d let you know — I took Audrey in for her first ever sub-q fluid therapy last Friday. She was in a funk for about a week and nothing I was doing was pulling her out of it so I made the appointment. Made a WORLD of difference. Almost within an hour she was back to her normal self. PHEW…

    I also revisited canned K/D after I realized she was reacting to canned buffalo tripe. My guess is that it is contaminated (either by accident or on purpose?) with cow tripe which she is allergic to. I’m using the K/D as a base and adding egg whites or lamb tripe or Honest Kitchen Love etc in order to mix things up for her. She still LOVES food and eating…

    Her gums are a bit light so started her on chlorophyll perles. They taste like grass. The first one she eagerly ate. The second (given immediately after first) she ate with great resistance. However, they must be helping a lot as she now is actually frantic to get them when I get the bottle out and chomps them right down — she’s getting two in am and two in pm.

  • aimee

    Hi Shawna,

    Good to see you back. Hope all is well with you and your family.

    Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that you are agreeing with Storms Mom.

    I thought you and I were “on the same page” in regards to protein and we both thought that of the macronutrients, protein is the least efficiently stored as fat. But I didn’t realize that you believe that statement is conditional on “proper exercise”

    As I’m understanding Storms Mom, and you, since you are agreeing with her, if you feed high protein it would be stored as fat unless the dog is exercised properly, and the proper exercise to prevent protein from being stored as fat is “hour long, brisk walk on a leash.”

    “The ones fed high protein would not be given the proper amount of
    exercise to utilize the protein or see maximal effect from its benefits,
    and thus would store it as fat.”

    I guess this is just another area on which we differ as I do not think a particular type/duration of exercise is necessary when feeding a high protein diet. Why do you think that it is?

  • Shawna

    I agree with you Storm’s Mom… And there is more and more data and research coming out demonstrating how a higher protein (and even higher fat) diet can improve weight loss in humans, let alone in canines!! Starving a dog with high fiber and carbs is one way to weight loss but is it the best way? Nope, like you, I don’t think so…

    Some of this higher protein research in dogs, such as two from the Journal of Nutrition, has been posted here over and over again but seems to be ignored by some.

    The truth is being told and it’s only a matter of time before those opposing this new data will have to accept it and move on.

  • aimee

    I’m really am trying to understand your position. In your original statement you didn’t say anything about exercise, but now seem to be saying that a high carb diet won’t cause weight gain as long as the dog has an opportunity to engage in high intensity short duration exercise. Though this exercise pattern in your opinion prevents weight it is not ideal for the dog. Is that what you mean???

    Is it that you believe that when feeding either a high fat or high protein diet dogs need sustained exercise to prevent fat accumulation, and that people should feed their dogs high protein and fat diets and then exercise them by leash walking for at least an hour to prevent weight gain?

    “The ones fed high protein would not be given the proper amount of
    exercise to utilize the protein or see maximal effect from its benefits,
    and thus would store it as fat.”

    In the Romsos growth study, as there is a lot of detail on the dog’s housing, sad as it is, the logical conclusion to be drawn is the the dogs were caged 24/7.

    Is it that you dislike this study because the dogs were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, when they wanted and feel if the dogs were fed on a limited caloric restriction basis, weight gain efficiency on an energy basis would be different?

    Would you feel comfortable saying that when dogs are restricted from exercise other than what they can get when caged that carbohydrate is less efficient at promoting weight gain than is fat?

    I never suggested an “ideal” diet. I maintain that “I think dogs are quite flexible in regards to macronutrient profile” Nor have I now or would I ever have said or would say this study “proves” anything. Science doesn’t “prove” things. ( I loved the comment a poster recently made who said if you want proof go to the liquor store)

    Nor have I ever said “carbs don’t generally cause more weight gain than protein” In terms of feed efficiency in relation to energy storage I see protein as least efficient (in the dog anyway, not so sure in the cat based on Coradini 2011)

    You defined me as being “pro carb” because you see me as “advocating feeding carbs to a dog (and higher levels of carbs than fat or protein),” so I saw you as classifying yourself as “pro carb” when you advocated feeding a diet higher in carbs than fat on an as fed basis when you stated “You shouldn’t hesitate to feed Earthborn Primitive Natural” Not sure why your definition applies to me and not you, but OK … : )

    Do you yourself try to eat a carb free diet as I’ve never found it reported that people have a requirement for carbs?

    I consider myself carb neutral. Like any nutrient the pro’s and con’s vary with the situation/individual.

    Goodness! I wasn’t asking you to spend hours researching.. who has time for that: ) Not me!

    In science, one forms reasonable conclusions based on available data.
    Those conclusions are always subject to change as new data comes to
    light.

    As a published author, surely you read the literature first, then form
    reasonable conclusions based on what data you have read.

    I was asking for the studies that you already read which led you to conclude that ” Excessive carbs is what generally leads to weight gain (and, carbs are less likely to make a dog feel full).”

    I’ve made reasonable conclusions based on the data I’ve seen. When someone makes a statement differing from my conclusion I want to see what data they read that led them to their conclusion as I’m always willing to modify and adapt my conclusions based on available data as any good scientist does!

  • Storm’s Mom

    It’s the irrelevance of the free-feeding to the situation at hand and your continuing to point to studies that are based on free-feeding that I find annoying more than anything.

    More “troubling” I would say is the little to no attention both studies give to the “output” side of this equation: exercise!!! The 2nd study says “Also during this period, their cages were cleaned, consequently the dogs were active.” (pg 1456) ..and that’s it!! Both studies go to great lengths to talk about the specifics of the diet/intake side of the equation, but totally neglect to mention any specifics about the output/exercise equation. When it’s mentioned, it’s only in regards to a “consequence” of another (human) desire/need/action (to clean the cages).

    If the exercise is a quick “run around” of, say 15-20mins (which is my guess), as opposed to an hour long, brisk walk on a leash, then I would say that it makes total sense that the dogs fed high carbs would not gain as much as the ones fed high protein because the exercise regime favoured the high carb fed dogs. The ones fed high protein would not be given the proper amount of exercise to utilize the protein or have maximal effect from its benefits, and thus would store it as fat.

    To suggest that this means that a high carb, short exercise regimen is ideal ..or that a high carb diet is ideal based on these studies.. is absolutely bizarre. Sadly, it’s what a lot of people believe/do with their dogs these days …but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do for the dog. Again, it sounds like you’re advocating for a diet that solely exists because of human convenience, not what’s in the best interest of the dog. That’s just something you and I will never agree on.

    I wouldn’t say I’m “pro carb” at all… I feed them very reluctantly, out of necessity at the moment more than anything. I’m definitely not “pro carb”.

  • aimee

    Hi Storms Mom,

    I’m not following what specifically about the dogs being free fed that you are finding so troubling. The authors did keep track of energy ingestion and weight gain among all groups and reported it.

    If anything you might expect that if carbohydrates caused weight gain, as you propose, the effect would be magnified when allowed free access to the food along with restricted exercise vs limit feeding along with exercise.

    Of interest though, pertinent to your statement that “Excessive carbs is what generally leads to weight gain”, is that the authors reported weight gain in grams on an energy basis.

    In the second sixteen weeks they report that dogs on the highest carb containing diet gained less weight than those on other options in spite of an increased energy intake by dogs on the carb containing diets.

    In weeks 17-32 the dog on the high carb diet (62% of energy from carb) gained 14 grams for every 1000 kcals consumed whereas those on the 0% energy from carbohydrate gained 23 grams/1000kcals consumed.

    In this study weight gain was much less efficient on the high carb diet vs the no carb diet. This finding doesn’t support your statement.

    Did you have a chance to look at the fat fed dog model? You didn’t comment on it and perhaps you’d like the study design in some of those reports better as feed intake is usually controlled. You can find one such report by Kim et al 2003 Primacy of Hepatic insulin…”

    To summarize six dogs were fed 3885 kcals/day 37.9% energy from carb, 26.3 protein and 38.5% energy from fat. After ensuring weight stabilization on that diet, the diet was changed to increase the fat calories by ~8% which decreased the percent of calories from carb by~5% and protein by ~3.5%. The dogs were fed 3945 kcals /day of the new diet. The small difference in calories wasn’t considered significant.

    After 12 weeks on the new diet the body fat of the dogs more than doubled with “very little change in body weight”

    In this study when dogs were on the higher carb diet they had less body fat than when on they lower carb diet.

    I’m always curious as to why people state “Excessive carbs is what generally leads to weight gain”
    You feel the studies I’ve reported on are flawed… it’s true as every study has flaws yet you haven’t posted any studies that support your statement. What published study is it that you have read that led you to believe “carb leads to weight gain” in dogs?

    Certainly excessive energy from any source can lead to weight gain but I don’t see support in the literature that carbohydrate promotes weight gain or fat accumulation in the absence of excessive calories.

    I think dogs are quite flexible in regards to macronutrient profile. If you think that makes me “pro carb” so be it. By your definition of ” pro carb” I see that you are “pro carb” too!

  • Storm’s Mom

    Oh lord, another free-feeding study! And one that does not address exercise at all, again! Seriously aimee?!

    In my eyes, you’re “pro carb” because you’re advocating feeding carbs to a dog, which has no dietary requirement for carbs (although it does for protein and fat).

  • aimee

    Hi Storms Mom,

    I’m carb neutral. Not sure why you’d think I’m pro carb, unless it is because I’m not anti carb.: )

    Why does the study seem pro carb to you? Romsos has published a lot of studies looking at effects of dietary changes in many species. I’ve never thought they were pro or con anything. Just a researcher asking questions.

    Have you read his growth body composition study yet? Full text is available on line. If not you should read it. Interestingly enough the pups on the highest carb diet were the leanest.

    The other place that I’ve seen body composition evaluated after changing the macro nutrient profile is the “fat fed dog model” Keeping calories the same and changing to a higher percent fed as fat calories ( less as carb and protein) the researchers increased the dog’s body fat levels two fold in 12 weeks without weight gain.

    So again this wouldn’t support the idea that carbs cause weight gain or fat deposition.

    Of course as always excess calories from any source, protein carb or fat can lead to weight gain.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Yes, I know it’s 51% of calories from fat.

    Without reading the study in its entirety (clearly a “pro-carbs” study, as are you), there are too many possible variables to discuss this much further. I have, however, requested the full article (presuming I’ll get it since I’m in their database as a published author of a few studies), so hopefully I’ll be able to comment more fully later. Having said that, it’s also only 1 very limited study…

    One thing that comes to mind that may explain the weight gain difference is that carbs manifest as a “short burst” soon after they are eaten, while fat and protein have a more controlled release time. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that the dogs fed such a high carb diet (59% of calories were derived from carbs) had a very intense burst of energy (which may have burned off a lot of calories) and then “crashed” and went to sleep, thereby limiting their opportunity to partake in the free feeding fiesta. The dogs eating a high-fat from calories diet (51% – which doesn’t exist in a balanced formula) would’ve likely lasted (stayed awake) longer and thus had more opportunity to keep eating, so unless they were getting the proper amount of exercise to offset that intake (which I highly doubt), they would gain more weight.

    Call me crazy, but I’d much rather have a longer, lasting more balanced dog than one that yoyos. Wouldn’t you?!?! I’ve seen it with all the dogs I’ve ever had.. when they are fed a high carb diet, they go bananas and crash ..and while it can be entertaining and all, it’s not healthy. When eating a moderate diet, they are far more calm and balanced. It’s not a coincidence that we are seeing such a surge in behavioral issues in dogs as the % of calories from carbs has gone through the roof. Does this not concern you at all, aimee?

  • aimee

    Hi Storms Mom,

    To clarify the diet wasn’t 51% fat, 51% of the calories came from fat… very different. I can’t think of a kibble this high, some come kinda close, for example Earthborn Primitive Naturals is 44% fat calories according to this sites calculations. But it isn’t uncommon to see this amount exceeded in a canned or commercial raw diet.

    I saw this study as relevant for 2 reasons. 1. You said carbs are less likely to make a dog feel full which to me implies that with free access to food the dog would continue to eat and eat and eat compared to a dog whose diet was lower in carb. Yet it was the dogs on the high fat diet that ate the highest amount of calories.

    2. “Excessive carbs is what generally leads to weight gain” implied to me that you were saying that carbohydrate is more likely to be stored as fat vs fat or protein. The high fat group as a whole did consume 13% more calories but if carb predisposes weight gain you might have expected that to have offset the caloric difference such that the groups may have gained similarly .

  • aimee

    What do you find interesting about it? I wanted to shorten the length of the post and it was the sentence I thought was least relevant as there was no difference between the groups.

  • Storm’s Mom

    Interesting that you left out/deleted the following sentence from your “quote”:

    “In both groups of dogs 78-80% of the increase in body weight was fat.”

    http://www.researchgate.net/publication/22520700_Influence_of_dietary_fat_and_carbohydrate_on_food_intake_body_weight_and_body_fat_of_adult_dogs

  • Storm’s Mom

    I don’t see how free-feeding dogs a diet of 51% fat has much/any relevance to the point at hand. I’m not a fan of feeding that level of fat any more than I am that level of carbs. One key sentence of your post to me is “dogs fed the high-fat diet consumed slightly more energy” ..in other words, they ate more. So, yeah, if you eat more, it would make sense that ya might gain more if you don’t offset that with more exercise (info about exercise levels is conspicuously absent in your post). It’s not surprising that dogs would eat more fat-laden food given that fat often smells more appetizing to a dog, so left to its own devices, it could choose to eat more than it should. Again, I don’t see the relevance to the situation at hand.

  • aimee

    If caloric intake exceeds output the excess is stored. In dogs it is most energy efficient to store fat as fat, less so for carb and the least for protein.

    If excessive carb leads to weight gain and is less likely to make a dog feel full how do you explain this :”Adult female dogs were fed ad libitum for 25 weeks a high-fat diet (51%
    of energy from fat) or a high-carbohydrate diet (59%
    of energy from carbohydrate). Dogs fed the high-fat
    diet gained more body weight than did dogs fed the high-carbohydrate
    diet….. The high-fat diet may have been utilized more
    efficiently
    for body fat gain than the high-carbohydrate diet;
    alternatively, it is possible to explain the increased body fat
    accumulation
    in dogs fed the high-fat diet on the basis of the
    small observed difference in energy intake. Dogs fed the high-fat diet
    consumed
    slightly more energy (13%) which resulted in the
    accumulation of more than twice the amount of fat accumulated in dogs
    fed
    the high-carbohydrate diet during the 25 week
    study.”

  • sharron

    thanks again – i pushed her a little too hard the other day on her walk – i have 3-4 bags of the acana regionals trial size, so will stick with that for now and see how it goes. i tried the NV medallions the other day, wouldn’t eat it unless can was with it, then she just ate the can

  • Storm’s Mom

    There is no such thing as “excessive” protein or fat, for most dogs. In fact, if you don’t have “excessive” protein or fat, guess what you DO have excessive amounts of? Carbs!! Excessive carbs is what generally leads to weight gain (and, carbs are less likely to make a dog feel full). The % of protein, in particular, to feed has nothing to do with whether a dog is “high energy” or a “couch potato”. You shouldn’t hesitate to feed Earthborn Primitive Natural, particularly if it’s one that Lexee might actually stick with – it’s a great food! (I’d feed it, except it has chicken in it, which my guy’s allergic to).

    You may need to work up to an hour walk if she’s used to 20 minute ones. Try increasing it in 5-10 minute intervals. Remember that on the longer walks, you will need to decrease the pace a little bit, too. Don’t overdo it too quickly.

  • sharron

    thanks so much – your comments certainly makes sense – better than that nutritionist i took her to – she wants her taking in 200 cals/day and depending on the food which she thinks should be royal canin, or hill’s, 200 cals doesn’t cut it, this dog is hungry!! – and this woman thinks that lexee is about a lb – 1 1/2 lbs overweight, and i don’t agree with her.
    i am trying to find a decent dry food that has a decent protein and fat percentage without it being excessive – she really liked the earthborn primitive natural but it has 38% protein and 20% fat, that seems a bit excessive to me considering she’s not a high energy dog. rather a couch potato. i tried increasing her exercise. the other day in the morning i took for an hour walk, on the way back i had to carry her for a bit, the leg she broke way back when she was about 8 months old, started to bother her and she started limping.

  • Storm’s Mom

    It depends on so many variables, particularly how much exercise she gets and how efficient she is at burning those calories (her metabolism), so it’s hard to say. “Eyeballing” whether she’s gaining or losing weight is the only way to know, really, short of using a small scale and weighing her regularly (Lexee is small enough that you could do this, if you wanted to). Also, as you’ve experienced, vomiting/dry heaving, stretching out, stomach gurgling, etc before a meal is a sign that she didn’t get enough food the meal before, as she’s already burned through the calories, and the remaining acids are doing a number on her stomach. To be honest, I’ve wondered previously if some of Lexee’s refusal to eat foods after a certain period of time is that she hasn’t gotten enough food, and thus got a sore stomach, etc “from” it …which could make her reluctant to eat the food again.

    This PetMd article might be of interest: http://www.petmd.com/blogs/thedailyvet/ktudor/2013/oct/how-many-calories-do-pets-burn-during-exercise-30951

  • sharron

    i know how many calories she takes in, how do i figure out how many she burns in a day – haven’t met anyone yet that can answer that

  • Kris Mathieu

    What’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander…make sure it is something that a vet would be OK with . If it isn’t chances are it could make your pet very ill or he/she could die. Just be careful of what you read and whose advice you take. Just my opinion…unfortunately, some of us learn the worst lessons from individuals who post recommendations.

  • Dori

    Do Not Feed Her. Get Her to a vet ASAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This is an EMERGENCY SITUATION. Don’t waste time on this site she needs to be seen by a doctor quickly. Please.

  • Nickinkra

    Take her to the vet dumbass! Just drop her off at the spca because you cant take care of her and she’s probably going to die because of your inability to care for her.

  • Bobby dog

    Please be a responsible owner and take her to a Vet immediately. Take her to see a Vet at the SPCA or Humane Society if finances are an issue, but get her there as soon as possible.

  • Naomi

    I NEED HELP FAST ASAP PLEASE HELP PLEASE!! OKAY SO MY DOG IS A STRAY AND HAS BEEN OVER WEIGHT FOR A FEW YEARS NOW AND WE DONT HAVE MONEY TO GO SEE IF SHE HAS DISEASES OR HOW OLD SHE IS OR HOW MUCH SHE WEIGHS BUT ONE DAY WE DECIDED TO TAKE HER FOR WALK UP A HILL AND WE DIDNT EVEN GET HAVE WAY AND IT LOOKED LIKE SHE WAS GOING TO PASS OUT TO WE DECIDED TO GO BACK DOWN AND AS WE WERE GOING DOWN AND SHE STOPS AND OUT OF NO WHERE POOPS ON THE ROAD AND WE WERE WONDERING WHY SO WE LEFT HOME AND THE NEXT DAY SHE HAD A FEVER AND SHE COULDNT WALK OR DO ANYTHING OR EAT AND I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW OR HOW MUCH TO FEED HER OR HOW TO HELP HER AND IM SCARED THAT SHE HAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER SO PLEASE PLEASE HELP I NEED ANSWER PLEASE ASAP!!! THANK YOU FOR READING THIS.

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  • vaNola

    Obviously exercise and diet are the most important things in helping your dog lose weight, but something that really helped my pug Rosie was using OxyNu Minerals. It’s an organic multivitamin supplement and all you have to do is sprinkle it on normal food. It helped kick start Rosie’s metabolism and made it easier for her to shed the weight. You can only buy it at Oxynu.com but it was totally worth it.

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  • sharron

    wow, you have a house full- i would be the same if my husband would let me – he’s happy with 1 – thanks for your help

  • Shawna

    My eight toy breed dogs would all disagree with her :).. My smallest is an 18 year old 4 pound Chihuahua. I have two 5 pound Poms, a 7 pound Shih Tzu mix, Audrey (my pup born with kidney disease) is 9 pounds and the three bigger ones are all between 12 and 14 pounds.

    The five smallest ones are on HIGH protein raw (higher than Orijen). All but one have been with me for at least eight years and have always eaten this diet (including the one with kidney disease). The three larger ones also get higher protein than Orijen because of the toppers.

    Some dogs (both large and small) have some minor symptoms when first switching but they usually resolve quickly (couple weeks). Some other dogs are intolerant of an ingredient and shouldn’t be on Orijen but it isn’t due to the high protein unless they have a liver shunt etc.

  • theBCnut

    I deal with this same issue with my easy keeper horses. They don’t eat anywhere near the minimum suggestion feeding, so to get the right amount of vitamins and minerals, I have to give a vitamin/mineral supplement that is specific to horses that are on grass forage.

  • sharron

    hi – just bought 4 different kinds of the orijen – she ate the fish…..yeah!!!! and out of the bowl…..another yeah!!!!!!
    the owner of the pet store told me to watch her for ill effects since the food is high in protein – she doesn’t think that orijen and small dogs go together

  • sharron

    hi shawna – thanks for the info – so the food should be grain free? – been looking at the acana small breed – which is 32% protein, 19% fat – should the protein be higher than 32

  • Shawna

    Hi Sharron,

    Fat should be moderate and in line with protein. My foster Papillon came in to rescue over twice her ideal weight. She should be 12(ish) pounds but was over 30. She, Mimi, was OBESE.. Vet said not to exercise her as she felt she could have a heart attack from doing so. She couldn’t even walk two blocks without having to stop to rest. I have before and after pictures of her here somewhere.

    I put her on foods like Orijen, Nature’s Variety and such and then add high protein canned and raw foods as toppers to up the protein even more. She went from over 30 pounds (I’m blanking on exact weight now) to 14 pounds in a little over a year. My grand babies moved in at that point and the weight loss stopped due to extra crumbs provided by the babies… UGH The babies are two years older now and drop food less often so we’ve been able to get about another pound off Mimi but she still has a bit to go.

    If you find a food she likes that isn’t technically “high” protein you can still feed it and add higher protein canned or home prepared foods in small amounts to up the protein. A lightly cooked egg white with a little less kibble a few times per week. Egg whites are high in protein with no measurable amounts of fat. The fat is all in the yolk. Lean or boiled hamburger or white meat chicken are other options to add in small amounts to the kibble (reducing the amount of kibble fed to compensate for the extra food added).

    PS — when I say fat should be moderate or in line with protein I mean that if protein is 38% than fat should be no more than 19% and lower, but not too low, is good. Origen (which is one I rotate in often) is (at least now) 42% protein and 20% fat. I try to keep the protein to fat ratio of the toppers similar to that of Orijen or a bit lower in fat.

  • sharron

    thanks shawna – it’s trying to find a dry food that she likes and will stay with it that is high protein, low carb – what should the fat be?

  • Shawna

    Weight loss, and less hunger issues, can be achieved on a high protein, lower carb diet. The dog retains more muscle mass on this type of diet two.

    Here’s one of the papers on the topic
    “High-Protein Low-Carbohydrate Diets Enhance Weight Loss in Dogs” http://nutrition.highwire.org/content/134/8/2087S.full

    Dogs fed the same amount of calories lost more weight on the high protein diet then on the higher carb/fiber diet.

    “This study, however, found no differences in the calories consumed among
    the groups, whereas the low-carbohydrate groups
    still lost significantly more weight and fat mass
    than the high-carbohydrate groups. This suggests that decreased caloric
    intake is not the sole mechanism of action of
    low-carbohydrate diets.” Same link as above

  • Crazy4cats

    OTC stands for over the counter. Basically, not prescription.

  • sharron

    thanks aimee
    what is OTC short for and – been told in the past that lexee should roughly get 200 cals/day – i try and keep around that mark – give or take a few cals – she’s happy with eating 1/2 cup to 5/8 cup/day – that is spread out over 3 – 4feedings – 1/8 cup each feeding – the food she is on now and doing well on is the rc gastro moderate calorie (she gets bouts of stomach acid every so often) – i had her on a weight loss food and i fed her what i was suppose to – she was so hungry on it that she had on 3 different occasions brought up bile all day – so i fed her more and she gained a bit more

  • aimee

    There is truth to the vet tech explanation. Dogs need a certain amount of nutrients and the AAFCO tables etc assume a certain calorie consumption a day. If a dog requires far below this or is on a weight loss program it is possible to not take in enough nutrients.

    This is why there are foods specifically formulated for weight loss they have a higher nutrient/calorie ratio than other foods. This also depends on the company and the diet. Some diets/companies put more cushion in than others.

    Veterinary nutritionists recommend if using an OTC food for weight loss that the weight loss be very gradual vs a rec 1% a week if on a weight loss food

  • Crazy4cats

    I think that sounds ridiculous! The food is balanced. (well, it’s supposed to be anyway)

  • sharron

    hi – i’m not looking for help with this posting – just wonder what people think – i’ve been told in the past few days that if i don’t feed lexee the recommended serving/day that is stated on the bag, meaning
    cutting back on her daily intake, that she won’t be getting all the nutrients that she needs on a daily basis – this was told to me by a vet tech – lexee has never eaten the amt that is shown on the bag for her weight -just wondering what others think of this

  • Betsy Greer

    Stick to your guns, Sharron!

    Lexee is your pup, so the vet’s recommendation is just that, a recommendation. You’re working hard to control her portions and increase her movement.

    You’re doing just fine!

  • Crazy4cats

    Yes, I agree with you. It doesn’t sound like it is necessary to use a weight control food. Just cut back on amount fed. It is beneficial to switch foods every now and then, however. See the benefits of diet rotation in the FAQ tab above. Good luck with your dog!

  • sharron

    hi – lexee’s vet wants her on a weight loss food which lexee does not like and won’t eat – she only needs to lose about a 1/2 lb – the weight increase came from not getting enough exercise during the winter – but i have increased it since the weather is now nicer. I have her on royal canin gastro low fat, moderate calorie dry and the wet which is working quite well and lexee so far likes it – the vet says that this food is not for weight loss – i told her that lexee does not get the recommended serving a day, i feed her less than what is stated on the bag – she still insists that she should be on a weight loss food – i’m NOT going to switch food – any opinions? thanks

  • aimee

    Hi Sharron,

    The only way to know how many calories a day Lexee needs is to ask her. Calculating a caloric requirement is at best an educated guess. Nutritionists will report that the number of calories needed may vary by 50% from any number calculated.

    If the calculator at this site reports 230 calories then Lexee’s actual requirement may be from 115-345 calories a day.

    The way to refine it better is to weigh Lexee every week. Invest in an infant scale or take her to the vet once a week for a weigh in.

    I thought you posted previously that on 210 calories a day Lexee didn’t lose any weight. This could be why your vet recommended 180 calories a day for weight loss.

    The goal of a weight loss program is about 1 % a week. If you were feeding 180 calories a day and she was not on a steady decline in weight then Lexee is telling you that 180 calories a day are too much for a weight loss program for her. The choice is to adjust the program by either decreasing calories or increasing exercise and then checking her weight in another week.

  • dchassett

    Hi Sharron. I feed my girls twice a day every day. Breakfast and Dinner. They get treats in the evening when we’re watching t.v. Carrots, banana, apple, etc. Not a lot. I don’t give them any treats between breakfast and dinner. When I first get any new puppy or dog I do the same thing. It’s part of training. I put the food in their crate with them (I feed two in their own crates and my older girl (the queen of the house) out of her crate). I leave them in their for approx. 20 minutes. Open the crate, if they ate, fabulous. If not, I let them out put the food away and they would not eat again (no treats in between) until dinner time. Eventually (quicker than you would think) they learn that they better eat the food when it’s down cause it’s going to disappear. I think she may have got you trained and of course we’re all a bunch of softies when it comes to our babies but you’re the mom, you’ve got to take charge otherwise this is going to go on for her entire life. As to her not being hungry in the a.m., when are you last feeding her dinner and what and how many treats are you giving her before bed time. All this is really important to know to help figure out what’s going on. Dogs are incredibly smart at training us instead of the other way around. And, she is not going to starve because she has missed a morning meal that she did not eat. She’ll eat at dinner time. As I said, eventually she’ll get into the routine and know that when the food is down she’s got to eat it.

  • sharron

    hi – i need thoughts on what i was told this am
    i was out and about and dropped in at the vet clinic to get some dental chews for lexee. the vet tech asked how things were going in regards to lexee eating etc. she told me that instead of feeding lexee when she is hungry, i am to feed her at specific times, which i don’t disagree with, but i told her that there are mornings that lexee doesn’t want to eat, and she isn’t hungry until 3-4 in the afternoon. the tech told me that i have to make her eat, that i have to show her that i am the boss not her. i told her that lexee isn’t holding out for something better, she just isn’t hungry. plain and simple. this is driving me crazy.

  • Beth Knuth

    I just want to mention what happened to me lately, I have had Butch, pit mix rescue, 8 years old, on Raw Darwin’s for breakfast and kibble for supper for almost a year now. Lately, he has been doing what I think you are describing, I called it puke burping and bringing up some kibble and goo, this is all after he has eaten kibble at night, never after the raw. I just took him over to total raw, 2 pounds a day of the Darwin’s, absolutely no vomiting or puke burping anymore right away. He smells sweet and feels softer just after 5 days! You may have a vet that would go balistic over raw, but you could try that and see, Darwin’s has a web site, they send right to your door. Good luck!

  • dchassett

    Hey Sharron. We’re all a little crazy obsessed as far as our fur babies go. We all put on a little weight over the winter. It’s cold. Who wants to go out and exercise. Use your best “mom” judgement and she’ll be fine. Just don’t let her go hungry because of what some vet told you years ago.

  • dchassett

    Let’s see how she does. I think she was acting hungry because the poor baby is hungry. 180 calories is much too low. Each dog, as humans, is an individual. Of course, there’s a guide as to what weight one should fall into but it’s not written in stone. If your dog has weighed 10 lbs or so for the last four years and has been healthy than that’s more important than what the scale says. Each breed has small, medium and large boned dogs. There is no absolute weight for them. Use your own best judgement and so long as your dog is healthy she should not have to weigh an exact number and she should not be vomiting bile because the acids in her stomach are acting out. She’s hungry.

  • sharron

    thanks to all – i will up it to a 1/2 cup/day
    keeping her on acana will still be ok?

  • dchassett

    Thanks Melissa. That’s where I was coming from also. 180 calories is beyond low for Sharron’s dog. It’s no wonder that the poor dog is acting hungry, she is hungry.

  • sharron

    ok – thanks – i got how much to feed and how many calories from the vet about 3 yrs ago
    the extra little weight happened over the winter – it was ugly – couldn’t get her out
    i hope people on this site don’t think i’m
    a crazy lady who doesn’t know what she is doing

  • Melissaandcrew

    If your dog is 10.5lb and should be 9.5lb…and is inactive altered etc she should be getting something like 230 cals per day. No wonder she is hungry on 180. Go to the food calculator on this site and put in your numbers.

  • sharron

    hi – she gets 1 oz of dry and 1 tsp of wet 3 x a day – is that still too much?

  • Melissaandcrew

    Yuppers! I Should have been clearer on that!

  • theBCnut

    I think Melissa is saying you have to decrease the amount of dry or you are adding more calories.

  • sharron

    ok – so it’s either straight dry or straight wet food? – the wet food is blue buffalo divine delights – each container is 3 oz and contains 85 calories

  • Melissaandcrew

    You can not add canned food to what she is already eating and expect her to lose weight. The more calories in, the more weight she will put on.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Can you post a pix of her taken from t he top view?

  • sharron

    hi – going to keep her on the 3/8 cup/day dry and add canned to it and will feed her when she is hungry rather than going by what time it is. she’s the type of dog that eats to live rather than lives to eat. she’s not highly motivated by food – whether it’s people or dog food – will keep the servings smaller and feed more often – thanks for your help

  • dchassett

    I doubt very highly that vomiting or bringing up bile is a behavioral issue. Your vet said that? 180 calories per day also seems on the low side. Although most dogs are always looking for food, your dog actually sounds hungry especially with the bile issue. Have you tried any of the Acana grain free diets in their Regional line. They have a higher protein which I have definitely seen make a huge difference in my dogs. Before going to a high protein grain free food my dogs (all toy breeds) acted like they were starving even though they were at a good weight. Always looking for food, hanging around the dinner table and, yes, trying to lick and smell inside the dishwasher. I think within a week or less of switching them they stopped that behavior. Now when my husband and I are having dinner they all seem to wander off to their beds and/or crates on their own and nap. My dogs range in size from 5 to 8 lbs. I feed each of them 1/4 cup twice a day and it seems to work fine for them. My two smaller ones are more active then my older 8 lb. girl so it all works out. I don’t weigh my dogs, I know whether I have to tweak the amount they’re eating by feeling their ribs and their body. Oh, I should also mention that on a higher protein grain free dog they also have a lot more energy. My 14 1/2 year old Maltese that used to spend most of her time sleeping and which I assumed was old age, now only naps at our dinner time and sleeps through the night. The rest of the time she’s running around, playing and barking at anyone passing the house and playing with our other two dogs. Just like she used to do when she was younger. It’s amazing.

  • sharron

    it’s not you – i should have given those details
    she is a 5 yr old yorkie/chihuahua – she has been this weight for the past 4 yrs, – she ranges from 10.1 lbs to 10.6 lbs – she has always been like this – i can feel her ribs without digging to feel them. she has these little saddle bags just past her shoulders which i have never be able to get rid of. i have had her on weight control food from the clinic, i have cut back on regular food and with doing this, lexee starts
    bringing up bile because she is hungry and not getting the right amount of calories. i have been told it’s a behavioural issue. I don’t agree with that at all. I don’t think 180 cals.day is enough.

  • dchassett

    I should have asked this question from the beginning but what type of dog do you have, how old is she and what makes your vet feel she’s over weight? When you feel her, can you feel her ribs without having to press in too much? Does she have allergies? I’m wondering why she’s on a limited ingredient food.

  • sharron

    what is considered a mod fat level
    the only dry food she likes and will eat consistently is acana and orijen