Caitlin UltimoHealth / Pet Fitness

Help Your Dog Drop Pounds for a Weight Loss Win

Keeping a close watch on your dog’s weight isn’t about making your furry friend go without—it’s about keeping him healthier for longer, and it’s a very smart move to make.

Some pet owners—especially those who are prone to overindulging their dogs—might need a little help to start getting their overweight dogs to drop those extra pounds. Here are a couple simple steps to get the dog weight loss process rolling.

1. Consult your vet. Any time you plan on changing up your dog’s diet—including how much or what type of dog food you give him—you should first consult with your vet. Together the two of you can come up with a healthy dog weight loss plan for your pup so you’ll be assured that he’s still getting the proper nutrition every day that he needs. If your pup really is an overweight dog, your vet may recommend a diet low in fat or calories, like Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced Fat Formula Dry Dog Food or Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Reduced Calorie Chicken, Salmon & Duck Formula Canned Dog Food.

2. Reconsider what a “treat” is. If you have to put your overweight dog on a diet but you just can’t imagine not giving him some kind of treat during the day (he’s just such a good dog!), consider a healthier version like cooked carrots or green beans. These options are still tasty (trust us!), but they’re much more nutritionally valuable for your overweight dog and likely come with far fewer calories per serving than those dog treats in your pantry do. If you’d rather stick with something you don’t have to actually cook, at least aim to give your dog healthier dog treats to keep him on his dog weight loss plan, like Blue Buffalo’s Health Bars Baked with Banana & Yogurt.

3. Schedule playtime like you do meetings. You’re super busy, so it only makes sense that one of the first things that probably falls by the wayside when you’re swamped is playtime with the pup. Remember, though, that it’s extra important to keep your dog moving at least a little bit every day. (The exact amount of exercise your dog needs each week will depend on his breed. Consult your vet for advice.) In order to make sure this remains a priority, try scheduling your dog’s exercise on your calendar the way you would any important meeting. That way you’re more likely to keep the play date. If you’re seriously strapped for time, at least consider picking up dog toys that’s easy to use while you’re busy with other things, like the Ethical Pet Laser Exerciser Original 2 in 1 Dog & Cat Toy.

4. Reward with cuddles, not calories. If your go-to when your dog does something great is his favorite treat, try rewarding him with some extra pats or, better yet, a short game of fetch in the backyard, instead to not let his dog weight loss goals fall by the wayside.

5. Keep track of your progress and reward it! Helping your pup with his dog weight loss will likely have the same emotional quandaries as would losing weight yourself. For example, it won’t happen overnight, and patience will be extremely important. In order to help stay on track—and not lose hope!—try keeping a journal of your (and your dog’s) accomplishments each week so you stay upbeat about the process. (“Cooked a batch of yummy carrots and doled those out all week instead of treats.” “Made four or our five exercise dates for this week.”) If you meet a certain number of your goals each week, be sure to reward both yourself and your pup for the hard work with something fun. Just don’t make it too indulgent!

Stick with these easy-to-follow suggestions, and in no time, you’ll start to notice a difference in your dog’s waistline. That means a healthier pup and a happier you, too.

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