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The Solution To Obesity In Dogs

August 07, 2020 6 min read

best diet for obese dogObesity in pets is a serious issue, affecting more than 50% of dogs in the U.S. alone. As in humans, extra weight and obesity can lead to a variety of health problems from chronic inflammation to diabetes and a shorter life.As pet owners, it is our job to recognize if our dog is overweight or obese and to find a solution in order to give them the best overall health and quality of life. The good thing is, with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle, you have the power to help your dog avoid obesity and achieve their ideal healthy weight. 



What Causes Obesity In Dogs & Overweight Dog Problems?

Overweight and obesity in dogs can happen for several reasons including age, medical problems, lack of exercise, breed, overfeeding, and the most impacted by diet. Feeding a processed diet high in fat with empty calories, such as fillers, starches, and carbohydrates, your dog can gain unnecessary weight which in time can lead to an array of serious health issues.

A dogs digestive tract is not equipped for digesting these ingredients in pet food that are not biologically appropriate. A poor diet lacking essential nutrients is the first step to weight gain in our pets! 

Next, is the amount we are feeding. As in humans, overindulgence can gain in weight gain. Dog’s should be eating based on their ideal healthy body weight which will result in weight management and maintenance. Overindulgence can take place if you are free feeding kibble to your dog, or not measuring their appropriate daily portions. Make sure to accurately calculate how much to feed your dog each day to avoid overfeeding. 

Diet, along with other factors such as medical condition, age, and breed all can result in weight gain and obesity. As pet owners, we must recognize the problem since our beloved pets put their trust in us! As much as we might think chubby puppies and dogs are cute, they are not healthy. Extra weight can lead to health issues down the road such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, pancreatitis, and cancer in addition to reducing your dog’s lifespan and quality of life. Lean dogs live longer!

best food for dog weight loss

How To Help My Obese Dog Lose Weight

As we have discussed, obesity is a major health concern & growing epidemic in dogs, due to highly processed diets full of fillers. The first step in weight loss and management in your dog is recognizing that your dog is overweight in the first place. It seems like this would be obvious to the pet owner, but many times is not as we have a misconstrued idea of what a healthy weight in our dog’s looks like. The 9 point body score chart can help you identify if your dog is overweight or obese. 

Dog Obesity Scale

A healthy dog will have slightly visible ribs & a waist line, as described in point 4-5 below. If your dog falls under point 7-9, they are considered obese. 

dog obesity chart infograph

What Can I Do To Help?

Thankfully, as pet owners we are in complete control of the food our dog’s consume. Nutrition is the most important and an impactful decision pets owners can make each day. By changing your dog’s diet to a healthier option, as well as increasing physical exercise and making healthy lifestyle choices for your dog will result in weight loss and management. Similar to humans, there must be effort, persistence, and patience to achieve weight loss!

Check out: Our full Weight Loss Guide.

The Best Diet For Overweight Dogs

In order to reach an optimal healthy weight, dog’s should be eating a natural raw diet consisting of high quality meat and fresh vegetables with essential vitamins and minerals to meet their nutritional needs. A whole food diet will provide your dog with healthy fats, protein, and nutrients that are biologically appropriate for their species.

By eating a biologically appropriate diet, your dog will reach their ideal healthy weight while also ensuring their digestive system is working properly. Different from “light” kibble, a raw diet is designed to  help your dog achieve, and remain at, their ideal healthy weight without cutting vital nutrients from their diet. In fact, dogs on a raw diet receive more proteins, vitamins, and minerals than those eating a processed kibble diet.

Dogs use fat as their source of energy. If they are receiving more fat and not producing and using energy, their body will store the fat and result in weight gain. Protein gives your dog's metabolism energy, providing the body with the appropriate nutrition while also repairing muscle and resulting in a lean body. This is similar to humans eating a whole food diet!

Other Weight Loss Tips:

A High Quality Raw Diet

As we discussed, a raw diet is the best diet for overweight dogs, and all dogs for that matter! Keep in mind switching your dog's diet won’t work miracles if not done correctly. Make sure you are feeding your dog the right amount for their ideal healthy weight and activity levels. Next, make sure you pick the right raw dietfor your dog with high-quality ingredients low in calories. Last, be patient as weight loss can take time to be noticed, especially if you have a larger dog.  Just keep in mind this diet is what your dog’s biology calls for and will help your dog achieve weight loss in a healthy natural way! By consuming the nutrients your dog needs without unnecessary ingredients, your dog will avoid weight gain and risk of obesity while also preventing further disease and health issues. 

Feed Based On Your Dog's Ideal Healthy Body Weight 

We recommend feeding 2-3% of your dog’s body weight daily. Every dog is different based on their breed, age, activity, level, and metabolism so monitor your dog’s weight and adjust as needed. 

Don’t Do A Crash Diet

Feeding your dog a natural raw diet that will aid in weight loss is a lifestyle change, not a crash diet. Don't expect to see your dog reach their ideal weight right away. These changes can be seen in months, some times more. Your dog will naturally lose weight till they reach their ideal healthy weight, which at that time will be managed with this appropriate amount of food. 

Limit Treats

Treats count towards your dog’s daily calorie intake, so if you are trying to help your dog shed some extra pounds its best to limit treats or subtract from their daily feeding amount. If you are giving treats to reinforce good behavior or show your dog some extra love, choose healthy limited ingredient treats like our Venison Jerky or a healthy dog-safe fruit or vegetable! 

Feed Fruits And Vegetables

Your dog will benefit from a diet consisting of not only raw meat, but fresh fruits and vegetables as well. Fruits and vegetables will provide them with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to ensure their immune system, organs, and digestive system is working properly. 

Increase Physical Exercise

Encourage your dog to be active to assist with weight loss and overall health. Create a routine with your dog to get enough daily exercise. This combined with a healthy diet will increase the chance and rate or weight loss. 

Choose Lean Meat Sources

Choose a meat source such as chicken or turkey as they are leaner than beef and lamb. By reducing the fat content and increasing the protein in the diet, your dog is more likely to achieve weight loss. When your dog has reached their optimal weight, you can start giving a more diverse raw diet. 


dog weight loss guide


Obesity in dogs is a growing epidemic that we have the control to change! Pet owners are in control of their dog’s nutrition and have the opportunity to make this positive change in their dogs life to result in a healthier, happier, longer life. Not only will your dog feel better at their optimal healthy weight, but their body will be working properly with a diet free of fillers, preservatives, and starches. A raw natural diet is the best diet for overweight and obese dogs. 

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