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Biggest Loser Tip

How to Help a Dog Lose Weight

The most critical factor in any dog weight-loss plan is diet—and both the type of food and the amount matter. Exercise is always encouraged, but exercise alone is usually insufficient for substantial weight loss. What’s really important to remember is that weight loss needs to be a family or household affair. It takes dedication andcommitment from every one of your dog’s guardians to ensure he stays on track (and that stray treats don’t slip into the mix). A dog’s failure to lose weight is usually related to an owner’s failure to feed him the appropriate number of calories.

Overweight Dog Diet Plan

Here are 10 steps to get you there:

  1. Find your dog’s ideal body weight. Consult your vet — then you’ll have what you need to determine how many calories he should eat daily.
  2. Establish a weight-monitoring plan. Begin with an accurate read of your dog’s starting weight, followed by a plan for regular weigh-ins. For big dogs, you may want to talk to your vet about coming in on a schedule (we recommend every two weeks).
  3. Calculate your dog’s initial daily calorie intake. This is usually calculated by your vet, but you can also use the equation 70 x (Ideal Body Weight in kg)^0.75. Remember to use her ideal body weight. An alternative approach for overweight dogs is to cut their daily calories by about one-third.
  4. Factor in treats. Treats count in your dog’s daily calorie intake, so figure out a reasonable number of treats you’ll offer per day, and total up their calorie content. Consider training treats that have just a few calories each. Subtract this number from the total daily calories (above), and then you’ll know the exact final amount of calories your dog should get in food. Try rewarding good behavior with a toy, interaction, or some other enrichment that doesn’t involve calories. And let all members of the household and guests know about your dog’s diet to steer them away from offering treats or table scraps.
  5. Identify the right food and amount of it. Weighing the food is the most accurate, followed by precise measuring cups (a 1/4-cup scoop is much better than using the 1/4-cup line on a 2-cup scoop).
  6. Set a schedule. Feed your dog at least two meals per day; more frequent meals may burn even more calories.
  7. Recheck weight after two weeks on the diet. Ideally your dog will be losing between 0.5 to 2 percent of his starting body weight per week, or about 2 to 8 percent per month. Initially, he may lose weight at a faster rate because of a loss of water weight—so if you see he’s lost more than 2 percent per week early on, there’s no need to adjust.
  8. Adjust calories as needed. Monitor your dog’s weight loss and increase or decrease her calorie intake to make sure you’re hitting the target rate. If you have to decrease her intake, and she seems like she can’t get full, try adding a little water or even very low-calorie veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, celery) to her food.
  9. Ramp up activity. Encourage slow and steady increases in exercise throughout the weight-loss plan.
  10. Monitor progress post-diet. When your dog reaches his target weight, don’t increase calories too soon or too dramatically—doing so could lead to rebound weight gain.


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