Ok, so my dog is FAT…what do I do?

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like i need another reasonIn our last post, we provided some tips on how to determine if your dog is overweight as well as some common reasons for this to occur.  Today, we will provide suggestions on how to change your behavior so that you are setting up your dog to succeed with a healthy weight loss program.

To recap, we identified 4 common human behaviors that have led us to have so many (41.1 million) overweight dogs.  These are listed below along with some suggestions on how to change or address each one.

Lack of knowledge about how much you should feed your dog given their age and activity level

It’s no secret that reading dog food labels can be confusing. And for the most part, the feeding instructions contained on the packaging is so generic that it provides little guidance as to how much you should feed your dog given their age, activity level, and current and target weight.  The table below, derived from the SlimDoggy app , is meant to provide a comparison of how differing sizes and activity levels can dramatically impact the amount of calories that are required for your dog.  If you use the SlimDoggy app, you can see these recommendations for your dog’s specific case.

Approximate Calories Burned for varying weight and activity

Dog Weight (lbs)




Little exercise




15 minutes, light activity




30 minutes, vigorous activity





Failure to properly measure food servings

Even if you have an idea of the correct amount to feed your dog, that alone does not guarantee that you will succeed in doing so!  It seems that a lot of us just don’t properly measure how much we feed our pets.  The result is that we under estimate and thus, we provide more calories than our dog requires.  This issue is also a cause of weight problems in humans and is a pretty easy one to solve.  Just measure!  Use a marked measuring scoop so you know that a 1/2 cup is really a 1/2 cup or 2 cups is really 2 cups, etc.  If you don’t have a measuring scoop, you can get one at our store with the SlimDoggy “workout warrior” logo on it.

Failure to account for ‘treats’ and human snacks that are provided to your dog each day

This one is somewhat related to the prior point– if you don’t keep track of what you feed your dog you will not know by how much you are missing the target.  Many people, in fact almost 100% of the dog owners that I know, feed their dogs either treats, human food or both.  I know that I do!  And there is nothing wrong with doing so as long as you know how many treats per day you are actually feeding your dog and adjust their breakfast and dinner accordingly.

One way to do this is to use plastic baggies and fill them up in the morning with the allocated treats for the day.  Now you can not only limit the amount of treats that are fed but you can also calculate how many extra calories from treats are being consumed by our dog each day.  Yes, the SlimDoggy app has calorie information on most of the available treats.

Lack of proper exercise for your dog

Dogs, like humans, were born to run and move around.  Unfortunately, in the aggregate, neither are doing so in the proper amounts which is why we have both a dog weight/obesity and a human weight/obesity problem.  The solution is so very simple.  Get up and move!  Take your dog for a 30-45 minute walk each day when possible.  Like to run?  Even better.  Take your dog with you.   Not into cardio so much?  Go to the dog park or play fetch with you dog, again for 30-45 minutes per day.  Bottom line is to get up and move.

Not only will your dog benefit, you might discover that you too, will shed some extra weight and look and feel a lot better. (Check out Peggy Frezon’s book “Dieting with My Dog” for her story about how she and her dog were both  able to lose weight together.  You can learn about Peggy and her book at her site http://peggyfrezon.blogspot.com/ )

In our next installment of this series, we will discuss calorie burns and specifically the difference between basal, resting, and exercise induced calorie burns.

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  1. I’m happy to say that the days are getting longer and I’m making a commitment to go for a 30 minute walk every day after work and 2 longer walks on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Thanks for the great information!

    • Great, thanks Kimberly. Walking is good for both you and your dogs so keep it up. 30 minutes a day minimum. Your dog will have fun and you will be able to feed them a little more (so they will Really love you for it).

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