New Year’s Resolutions For Your Dog

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Believe it or not, we are nearing the end of 2013 and about to embark on another holiday season.  With the turn of the calendar, often comes one or more “New Year’s resolutions” by well intended people looking to change or improve their behavior.  This year, why not resolve to keep your pet fit, trim, and healthy?


fat1First, the bad news: We are killing our dogs and paying a lot of money to do so.


Yes, you read that headline right.  Having a fat pet is costly in at least two ways:

  1. To the dog’s lifespan: lean dogs will live on average almost two years longer, (15% longer), than their fat litter-mates.  To put this in perspective, it is the equivalent of about 10-15 years increased lifespan of a human.   The fit dog will also have a more active and higher quality of life.
  2. To the owner’s wallet: owners of fat pets are spending a lot of money that they might otherwise not spend if their pet was fit and slim.  According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, in the US alone, there are about 37 million overweight dogs (about 53% of all dogs in the US).  We estimate that the owners of these overweight dogs are spending close to $8 billion dollars each year, on extra food, medical care, and medicines, all because they have fat pets.   Globally, the cost is even more staggering.


The statistics for cats are even worse.  A whopping 58% of cats, or about 43 million are overweight or obese in the U.S.


A Human ProblemMan and pet must exercise


Pet obesity is actually a human problem, not a pet problem.  Most dogs (and cats) that I know do not have opposable thumbs to open the fridge and serve themselves.  Nor do they go shopping for their own food.  It is the human who controls the quantity and quality of their food.  We are the stewards of our pet’s health and  we are failing them.


Obesity is arguably the single biggest health threat to our pets, yet, it is entirely, and easily preventable in most cases.   There are many health related problems that are a direct result from your pet being fat including:

  • Shorter life
  • Arthritis and other orthopedic problems
  • High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes (Type-II in cats)


That is one scary list, and I don’t know a single pet owner who would feel good about themselves if they were to unwittingly facilitate the development of such conditions by letting their pet become overweight.


Make a Resolution Stick


Jacknewyears101Making a New Year’s resolution is a pretty common human behavior, especially after several drinks at the New Year’s Eve party ;-).   It turns out that a majority of these resolutions end up being abandoned.  A study done by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire showed that only 22% of people making resolutions are able to stick to them.    The study also points out some tricks you can use to improve those odds, including:

  • Set specific milestones, not generic ones.
  • Breakdown the goal into smaller steps.
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish one of these steps.
  • Share your resolution with friends.
  • Keep a diary of your progress.


The Most Important Resolution for the New Year (for your pet)


So what will your New Year’s Resolution for your pet be this year?  We suggest that you resolve to help your pet lose “x” pounds (kgs) this year.


Sorry that we can’t be more specific because “x” will depend on your dog’s overall size and condition.  We recommend that you consult with your veterinarian to determine how much weight your pet needs to lose and use that as your target.  If your pet is obese, you might not be able to safely lose all of the weight in one year so ask your vet for a safe target for the first year.


What if your pet is already fit and near their target weight?  Even those with fit and trim pets can make resolutions to improve their pet’s health.  Check out some of our ‘mini-resolutions’ below and pick one of these.


Once you have set your target weight loss, you now have a specific goal to strive for during the year.   The next step is to set intermediate milestones so that you can confirm (and reward) progress throughout the year.  Healthy weight loss is a slow and steady process.  So why not set achievable monthly goals along the way?   We recommend using monthly milestones to make sure that you are on track.  When you (and your pet) achieve your monthly milestone, reward yourselves with a new toy or a piece of bacon!


A simple way to set monthly goals is to take the total weight loss for the year and divide it by 12 (for each month).  For example, if your dog was supposed to lose 12 lbs., that would translate to one pound of weight loss each month.  There are other, slightly more complicated ways to plan the monthly targets but this simple approach works well in most cases.  For some perspective, in order to have your pet lose 1 lb. per month, you would need to feed 3,500 less calories each month than they burn.


5 Mini-resolutions To Help Your Pet Achieve and Maintain Their Healthy WeightDepositphotos_13983899_xs


Having a specific weight loss plan for your pet is a great way to start the year.  When it comes to managing your pet’s weight, we suggest using “mini-resolutions”, which are behavioral changes you can make to ensure that your pet achieves (and maintains) their optimal weight.

Resolve to:

  1. Provide proper exercise for your dog.  Dogs need exercise!  They thrive on it.  Putting your dog out in the back yard does not count.  They need 30 minutes or more each day of vigorous exercise depending on their age, breed, and medical history.  They will feel and look better.  So will you!  And don’t let excuses get in the way.  Winter weather?  No problem.  Use a dog treadmill, try alternative exercise like core and balance training using balance cushions and wobble boards, or simply bundle up and get outside.
  2. Determine your dog’s daily calorie requirement to achieve or maintain their ideal weight.  Most people have no idea how many calories they should be feeding their dog, given their dog’s age, weight, and activity level.   Our Slimdoggy iPhone app was created to supply this information.  Note that the more active your dog is, the more you can feed them.  If you exercise your dog more on the weekends, they can be fed differently than on the weekdays!
  3. Measure, measure and measure.   It is crucial to accurately measure how much you feed to make sure you stay within your dogs daily target range.  Use a measuring cup.  If you are a ‘high-tech’ person, or are not at home for long periods of time, there are actually some pretty amazing technologies and devices being created to help with the measurement problem. (formerly is one company that is building an intelligent pet feeder that will help people address the overfeeding issue.
  4. Account for treats.  We all love giving our dog’s treats and table scraps and there is nothing wrong with it.  You simply have to account for those calories and adjust your regular feedings accordingly.  It helps to know the calorie content of the dog foods and treats you use—another benefit of using the SlimDoggy app.
  5. Learn to read dog food labels.  Your pet’s overall health is greatly impacted by both “how much” and “what” you feed your dog.  Spend some time examining your dog food labels and learn to spot healthy and unhealthy ingredients.   Use your analysis to buy the best food possible given your budget.  For more tips on how to read a food label, go to and search on food.


What do you say?  Will you use this New Year to resolve to get your pet fit, trim, and healthy?  You can save yourself a lot of money if you do so and quite possible extend their life and increase the quality of their life while doing so.Blog Hop Badge103_250


To help our friends and readers stick to their resolutions, we are introducing a new quarterly Blog Hop called Resolve to Move Your Mutt with our co-host Keep the Tail Wagging. All you have to do is submit a picture of your dog with a sign listing his resolutions and each quarter we will check in and see how things are progressing. Accountability is important in sticking to resolutions. Read more about the Hop here.




We’re linking up to the This ‘N That Thursday Blog Hop with a little of this and a little of that, sponsored by 2 Brown Dawgs and Ruckus the Eskie!



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  1. Thank you for this great post , have a beautiful day and welcome to our blog
    YourSpecialDog recently posted…Puppies OverdoseMy Profile

  2. So very true. My peeps definitely need to loose weight! I’m hoping I can get daddy out on his bike in the new year. And then I can run alongside him to encourage him (and try not to pull him in the bushes when I chase a squirrel like I usually do BOL)
    Misaki recently posted…Old friends, bookendsMy Profile

  3. my MAIN resolution (actually I prefer the word “intention”) is to have Dakota AND myself have WAY more exercise in 2014!
    Caren Gittleman recently posted…Winners! My Life With Snoopy by Joey CamenMy Profile

  4. I’m starting my resolutions early by getting outside no matter the weather and the dogs love it. Now that we have four, I have to lean on J more so that I can have a break to workout. I’ve discovered 7 and 10 minute workouts that are great and I can squeeze in several times a day and still make time for walks.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Resolve to Move Your Mutt | Combining a Dog Walk with a Work OutMy Profile

    • I do the same…but I can run my guys too, so that gives me my run and we’re lucky enough to have a gym in our garage – makes it easier.
      mkob recently posted…New Year’s Resolutions For Your DogMy Profile

  5. Such wonderful inspiration for setting a New Year’s Resolution and sticking to it! After all, our pets are so special to us and I sure know I want to keep Duke as healthy as possible for as long as I can!
    Jessica recently posted…A Spotlight on SlimDoggyMy Profile

  6. Great post! I pride myself in the healthiness of my dogs! I love seeing how happy they are when they get to run around, go for walks, things like that, and it is so nice to see their energy, and knowing that they are well exercised! ((husky hugz))
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Meet the Blogger!My Profile

  7. Great information.

    I have failed to keep my resolutions virtually every year. Often, they are broken/forgotten by the end of January!

    This year, I am going to create a manageable resolution for myself and my dog. We will both strive to lose 10% of our weight. That should put him where he needs to be and get me almost to where I need to be.

    As you suggest, we will achieve our goals by using some of your mini-resolutions as well. Number 1 on our list is measuring. I will start to measure my servings AND my dog Storm’s servings. Based on the Slimdoggy app, Storm needs about 1200 calories per day to achieve his target weight within about 5 months.

    There, I said it publically so it is on the record. I will be accountable.

    Happy Holidays!

  8. We can’t imagine not being fit and healthy. We recently switched from a high quality food to a higher quality food, so that is a good thing. We are more focused on learning new things in 2014. Bailie and Mom have to pass Obedience 1 without getting kicked out which is not going to be easy for either of them, and Bailie and I are signed up to start Nosework training in January. If that goes well we will continue with that and Bailie will be adding tracking and hopefully Obedience 2 to her list. Mom wants Bailie to get her CGC certificate, we will see if that happens. Lots of learning coming up!
    emma recently posted…The Joy Behind the Dog | GBGV | Meet the Pet Bloggers HopMy Profile

  9. Great post with excellent suggestions. Nothing is worse than a fat Poodle.
    jan recently posted…Why Do (Some) Dogs Tilt Their Heads When We Talk to Them?My Profile

  10. Great information! when Sampson and Delilah lost all their weight our vet was thrilled. She said we probably added two to three years to their lives. It made my heart feel good!
    Jodi recently posted…Nursing Home Tales and Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Day 19My Profile

    • Their lives are so short to begin with, so we have to do whatever we can to extend it. Good for you with the weight loss!
      mkob recently posted…New Year’s Resolutions For Your DogMy Profile

  11. Love, love, love this post! So true that it’s the people’s problem, not the animals. This last year we committed to getting in shape. This year we will commit to staying in shape and learning more about nutrition. We are amazed and disgusted that many of the ‘leading’ pet food brands have awful, unhealthy, and fattening cheap fillers! We will be writing to these companies too and telling them how we feel about this as part of our New Year Resolution! Mom’s so proud of how we look and she wants us to live as long as possible, so she wants us to stay fit. 🙂 Our health is reflected in how we look and our health is influenced by what we eat.
    Cattle Aussies~Bella, Terra, & Kronos recently posted…Photo of the Month!My Profile

    • Good for you. Those are great resolutions – I hope you come join us on our Resolve to Move Your Mutt Blog Hop on December 29 – we want to see photos of your dogs with their resolutions!
      mkob recently posted…New Year’s Resolutions For Your DogMy Profile

  12. Oh my dog. I met the biggest, slowest dog today. It was so very sad. I’d never seen such an out of shape dog. Hoping my friend who is babysitting can help the dog a little in the two weeks she has it.
    Flea recently posted…Healthy Dogs Have Healthy JointsMy Profile

    • It is so sad when you see a dog so mistreated – because that’s what it is…I”m sure the owners would roundly deny it, but…they aren’t feeding themselves!
      mkob recently posted…New Year’s Resolutions For Your DogMy Profile

  13. Thanks so much for joining TNT. Excellent tips. The end of hunting season will have our dogs back in training, but with the lack of daylight it is difficult to get much in until about March. Until then walks and backyard play will have to do. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

  14. Great true information. People kill their pets with what they think is kindness, or food equals love. It’s sometimes hard to talk to clients about their pets being over weight when they are overweight themselves. I’m in, my gang will have a resolution to keep fit and Nellie will still try to loose some weights, now for my signs and pictures.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…This ‘N That ThursdayMy Profile

  15. What a great post! I had no idea that the life expectancy is increased by 2 years! Amazing. Also I agree that pet obesity is a sapien problem. Thank you for linking up to This ‘N That Thursday Blog Hop.
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…Swan Lake and BarkBox Giveaway (ends 12/25) with @RuckustheEskie @BarkBoxMy Profile

  16. Great tips about keeping our pets healthy and trim. I have to say, I have no problem keeping my dogs fit (the indoor cats are a bit harder) – it’s ME that needs to get trim. Guess it’s easier to control how much (and WHAT) goes into my dogs’ mouths than my own. LOL!
    Donna and the Dogs recently posted…The Traveling LifeMy Profile

  17. Such a great post! So many great points, esp number 5…. it’s shocking that so many people don’t read the labels!
    The Stately Hound recently posted…The Best Dog Christmas Decorations of 2013 – Part 2My Profile

  18. Great post. All the pets in my husbands family r obese and it really bothers me.
    Retro rover

    • Well, send them over, get them involved and maybe we can help!
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Family MischiefMy Profile

  19. Awesome article! We resolve to stay fit and get active even more! We’ll be trying out some new dog sports (DockDiving, Agility (for the two who haven’t done it yet), Herding, Disc, and maybe even Freestyle! Great job motivating people to get active!
    Cattle Aussies~Bella, Terra, & Kronos recently posted…Going out of 2013 with a Bang! Hello 2014!My Profile

    • Excellent activities – can’t wait to hear about them.
      mkob recently posted…Black & White Sunday 1-5-14My Profile

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