Overweight Dog Health Concerns & Prevention Tips



Is My Dog Overweight?

It is estimated that 40% of pets in America are overweight. What's worse, approximately 25% of dogs in the United States are obese. It is very important that we take responsibility for the health of our pets. If a pet is overweight, it is almost certainly the owner's fault. There are, of course, certain medical conditions that can cause weight gain, but this article is not about that. If you suspect your pet's condition is a medical problem, PLEASE SEE YOUR VET!


Let's start by busting a long-held myth that spaying or neutering your pet will cause him or her to gain weight. This simply isn't true. There is no scientific basis for it. It is true that the surgery may slow the metabolism to some extent, causing the pet to burn calories more slowly and therefore to require less "fuel" for the energy he expends. However, the truth of the matter is, the surgery doesn't cause the weight gain; the weight gain is always caused by eating too much and not getting enough exercise – just like most Americans of the two-legged variety.


Overweight dogs sleep more and exercise less. Just as with humans, this affects the whole system. The body can't fight off infections as well and life expectancy is shortened. A walk around the block may benefit your health as well as "Fido's".


Despite every appearance, your dog is not human. Dogs are scavengers by nature and always believe that each meal might be their last... or at least their last for a while. Dogs do not normally eat several small meals a day as we do. They prefer to eat one or two large meals a day and then to rest after.

Overweight dogs are more susceptible to certain health problems, just as we are. Some of the more common major concerns are:

  • Arthritis and other joint problems
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Diabetes - (See our blog on Canine Diabetes.)
  • Numerous others caused by increased stress on the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys & joints

6 Tips To Help You Avoid Over-Feeding Your Dog:

  1. Don't leave food out for your pet to nibble on all day. Set a schedule and keep to it. Usually 1 or 2 good meals a day is plenty. Always leave plenty of water, especially if it is hot.
  2. Don't make your dog eat if he doesn't want to. It is the dog food companies, advertisers, and marketers that have led us to believe that all dogs must eat every day and will eat voraciously and vigorously each meal. Food (including treats) is no substitute for attention, nor is it a cure for guilt. Spend time with your pet – nothing else can replace that.
  3. If you just feel like you are starving your dog and can't live with yourself, cut back on the kibble and add a cup of green beans (low sodium - right out of the can). The dog will love it; they are healthy and add almost no calories or fat.
  4. Treats have calories too. If "Fido" gets an extra treat (or two) or some leftovers from dinner, be sure to cut back on the daily ration of his own food.
  5. Most "Reduced Calorie" pet foods have restricted fat levels to reduce calories. This causes an increase in carbohydrate percentages which stimulates insulin secretion and tells the body to store unused calories as fat. In short, many "Reduced Calorie" foods can actually cause weight gain.
  6. Your dog's diet should be meat-based, high in protein and fat, and low in carbohydrates. When choosing a food, look at the list of ingredients; the first ingredient on the list should be meat, not corn.

Jeffers carries a variety of quality premium dog foods that are ideal for keeping weight healthy, including Blue Buffalo, Purina Pro Plan, and Sportsman's Pride.

Trick or Treats:

Don't forget that treats, even healthy treats , have calories too. If you're counting your canine's calories, everything he (or she) consumes should be accounted for. Many of our treats are also calorie conscious. Look for low calorie treats like PupCorn and Skinny Minis. Remember to read labels.

Finally, for the dog who is seemingly never satisfied, you may want to try to curb his appetite with a supplement such as SatiAte Soft Chews. SatiAte contains a unique blend of natural ingredients that help curb the appetite. Gives your dog a feeling of being full and satisfied with their meal.

It's All in the Genes!

Some breeds are more predisposed to weight gain. Some examples are:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Beagles
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Cavalier King
  • Charles Spaniels
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Dachshunds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs

Remember, just as with humans, it is much easier to prevent weight gain than it is to lose excess weight. This is particularly true in older dogs (and people) when it becomes harder to exercise.

Order Up! 8 Recipes for Homemade Pet Food/Treats:

One sure-fire way to control what your dog eats is to make it yourself. Here are a few healthy recipes for dog food and treats you can make at home.*

DIY Homemade Dog Food Green Bean Crunchies for Dogs
5 Homemade Dog/Cat Treats DIY Homemade Chicken Jerky

Important Note:

Homemade foods and treats have no preservatives and can spoil faster than processed foods. Make smaller batches and freeze in daily sized portions.

Information given here is meant to be helpful and/or educational. It is in no way intended to supersede, challenge or supplant the diagnosis, treatment or advice of a licensed veterinarian.

* The above links to recipes are not Jeffers property or content. At the time of this posting, the recipes met with the approval of the staff and pet specialist. Do not feed your animal any foods you are uncomfortable with them eating. Always check with your veterinarian before making sudden and drastic changes to your pet's diet.

This article, originally written in 2007, has been revised, revamped, and updated several times. The latest was on October 6, 2017.

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