Helping your Dog Lose Weight

Three Minutes
Apr 25, 2022

Leaner dogs and cats live longer than overweight dogs and cats and have less of the following health problems.

  • Diabetes
  • Lameness
  • Skin Disease
  • Grooming Difficulties (mainly cats)
  • Digestive Disorders
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Heart Disease
  • Pancreatitis Heat Intolerance
  • Decreased Liver Function
  • Decreased immune function

Most of us can recognize when animals are really overweight, but it is important to try and make changes before the signs are too obvious and the problem becomes really big.  Here are a few tips:

  • Check the ribs. In short-haired dogs and cats you should see some outline of the ribs. In long-haired pets you should be able to feel the ribs under their coat. 
  • Check the waist. Like humans, the waist is the first thing to disappear when a pet gains too much weight. Both dogs and cats should have a narrowing between the ribs and the hind legs when seen from above, and a noticeable tuck when seen from the side.
  • Does your pet jiggle when they walk or run? The layer of fat under the skin allows the skin to move more when they are moving, or when you are petting them. Cats often deposit more fat in the upper chest, so look and feel between their front legs.

How Much is your Pet Eating?

A good place to start in helping your pet lose weight is to know how much you are feeding them. Measure their daily food consumption in cups, cans, or by weight. It is very important that you include all the treats you are giving your pet in the measurement. This includes biscuits, chews, bread, and stuff off of the table.

Measuring food consumption by weight is best because it is easier to include all the treats given. It is helpful if you can convert the amount of food given into calories, but if most of the food given to your pet is a prepared food, this is not necessary.

How to Feed Your Pet

Switching foods to achieve weight loss is not always necessary. There are cases where changing foods is not practical, especially if the pet is on a special diet for a reason. 

If you don’t know the fat level in a treat, consider skipping it – especially if your pet is overweight. With most pets, the interaction with you is usually more important than the size of the treat.

More important than measuring calories consumed by your pet is to measure his or her weight. 

Tips for Pet Weight Loss

Decide if you are going to change to a weight loss food or stay on the current food. 

  • Weigh your pet.
  • Increase their daily activity.
  • Add up how much food your pet is eating, by weight, cups, or cans.
  • Feed for 2 weeks, then weigh your pet again.

At the start of their weight loss program, weigh your pet every 2 weeks. Once you have established they are losing weight at the proper rate, you can weigh once a month. It helps to keep a weight loss chart to monitor progress. Be patient, if the pet is 25% to 30% overweight it may take months to achieve full results.

Protect your Dog

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.