Preventing Obesity in Dogs: Food is Not Love!

Overweight pug

Struggling with your dog’s weight? Learn how to prevent and manage obesity in dogs with tips from our experts.

We love our dogs; they’re family. But sometimes, our affection can lead us to pamper our pets a bit too much, especially when it comes to food and treats. 

It’s crucial to remember: food is not love! 

This overindulgence has the same effects on our pets as it does on us—too much eating or snacking often leads to weight gain. Combined with insufficient exercise, it’s a problem that compounds quickly. 

Understanding Canine Obesity

Definition and Diagnosis

Obesity in dogs occurs when excess body fat harms a dog’s health. It’s defined as 15% above a dog’s ideal weight.  Statistics show that one in four pets falls into the “overweight” or “obese” categories—a staggering figure that underscores the need for owner awareness, intervention, and prevention.

If you are worried that your dog may be overweight, there are some tell-tale signs to look for …

  • Excess padding over your dog’s ribs, enough that you can’t feel them
  • Your dog isn’t as active, is slower, or is panting more than normal
  • Your dog’s waist does not “tuck-up” from its chest to stomach
  • Your dog has no real waistline when viewed from the side

If you notice these signs, it’s a good idea to mention your concerns at your next vet visit. Your doctor can do a body condition scoring to verify if your dog is a healthy weight.

Causes of Obesity in Dogs

A sedentary lifestyle is most often the culprit to canine obesity through overfeeding and lack of exercise. Giving extra treats can feel like a show of love, but it’s actually harmful. 

Some diseases can cause your pup to gain weight such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Disease. This is another reason to raise your concerns at your dog’s vet visit. 

Also, certain breeds are predisposed to weight issues and require consistent exercise to stay healthy.

As a proud owner of a Dachshund, I’ve experienced firsthand the joy that treats bring to my pet and the difficulty of resisting those loving looks they give. Yet, I also know how essential regular exercise is for this breed and for dogs in general, who are by nature athletic and energetic. Without enough physical activity, they simply aren’t happy

The Impact of Obesity on Dogs’ Health

In the short term, overweight dogs may struggle with daily activities and mobility. You may notice a decrease in exercise and heat tolerance. This can lead to a general decline in their quality of life. 

The long-term risks are even greater: 

Preventive Measures

Proper Nutrition

The most basic cure for canine obesity is exercise and dietary changes. 

It’s vital to control both the quality and quantity of food. However, you may not need to eliminate treats completely. If your veterinarian agrees, you may opt to switch to treats like baby carrots, frozen green beans, pumpkin, or lower-calorie options. 

Also, keep feeding times consistent and make sure to measure the portions correctly. And avoid the temptation to give in to those begging eyes. It’s important that the entire pet family is accountable for your dog’s new nutritional regimen, too. No cheating!

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is crucial for keeping your dog fit and happy. Whether it’s walking, playing fetch, or participating in a dog sport, active dogs are healthy dogs.

If your dog is severely overweight or isn’t used to regular exercise, you may need to introduce a new exercise routine more gradually. A good start is 15-30 minutes per day which can be slowly increased as your dog becomes more fit. If your dog is older, you may need shorter and more gentle sessions.

Routine Veterinary Visits

At each vet visit, your dog’s weight should be checked. This regular monitoring helps catch potential problems early. Your vet can determine if there is an underlying medical cause for the weight gain.

If your dog is overweight, your vet can also provide advice on tailored diet adjustments and exercise routines to help get your pet safely back into optimum shape. A good goal for reducing body fat while maintaining lean muscle is about a 1-2% loss of body weight per week. 


Obesity in dogs is a serious issue but one that can be managed with proper care and attention. Reflect on your pet’s health: do you think they might be carrying extra weight? 

Engage with your vet, adjust your pet’s diet and exercise routine, and share your journey with our daycare providers. By being proactive about your dog’s diet and exercise needs, you can ensure they lead a long, happy, and healthy life.

Let’s work together to keep our furry family members healthy and thriving!


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