Caring For Your Obese Dog


Caring For Your Obese Dog

The vet said those dreaded words, “Fido is obese, and I need you to help him lose weight.”  Obese pets face many health challenges that can shorten their lifespan.  When I picked up my last two foster dachshunds both were obese, and they desperately needed to lose weight.

Exercising Your Obese Dog

Exercise is an important part of helping your obese dog slim down, in conjunction with a healthy diet.  Obese dogs face challenges by comparison to healthy dogs such as, a lack of stamina, becoming easily winded, additional workload on their hearts, extra pressure on their joints, and many others.  Discuss appropriate exercises, and lengths of time for these exercises to be done with your vet.  Swimming (even in the bathtub) is a great exercise for many dogs, and allows them to exercise more easily without the pressure on their joints.

When our obese fosters came to us, Faye had a near constant snort, due to her Pug heritage, and the fact that she was nearly four pounds overweight.  On a frame that could realistically carry 6.5-7 pounds, this was a substantial health risk.  As she has lost weight, she snorts infrequently, when she is happy, or playing with her foster brofurs.

Feeding Your Obese Dog

Work with your vet to determine what brand/type of food and the quantity of food to feed your dog to best help it get back to a healthy weight.  A quality food is of the greatest importance, because a reduction in overall food intake combined with a low quality food may set your pet up for nutritional deficiencies.

Our dogs have done well on Costco’s grain free food, Merrick Sweet Potato and Duck, and Acana’s Wild Prairie, but which specific food depended on the dog’s food sensitivities and overall health.

Treats For Your Obese Dog

These are best fed in limited quantities to your obese pet.  Know that it may also take time for your dog to develop a taste for these healthier options, so be patient.  Per Modern Dog Magazine’s 10 “People” Foods For Dogs article, some good foods for your dog include: yogurt, salmon, pumpkin, sweet potato chunks, green beans, and apples (no seeds).  We like to include easy to grab baby carrots, banana slices, and blueberries (if the kids haven’t already snarfed them all!).  Please check with your vet first, avoid those that your pet does not tolerate due to food sensitivity/allergy, and be sure to include the calories in your pet’s overall diet plan.

Showing Love For Your Obese Dog Without Food

It can be very easy to fall into the trap of “loving your dog”with food.  Fido may beg whenever food is present on the dinner table, and do ridiculously cute behaviors to compel you to feed him human food.  Don’t give in!  Play a game of fetch, give Fido a good belly rub, go for a walk, or place Fido in another room or kennel during meals if it continues to be a problem.  Remember that you want Fido to be healthy, happy, and with you for a long time!

What is your dog’s favorite treat?

Disclaimer:  My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.  I am NOT a veterinarian, and this blog post does not constitute medical advice.  I am simply a foster parent for dachshunds with experience caring for two obese dachshunds.  PLEASE contact your veterinarian if you are concerned for you pet’s health, feel that your pet may be obese, or need additional ideas on how to care for your obese pet.


  1. says

    When we first got one of our dogs from the shelter, she was a big girl. But my husband and I are runners and over time, with regular exercise, she has become quite the runner herself (and a stop and smell the roses girl too.) She now weighs about 15 pounds less than she did years ago, and is very healthy. Obviously running isn’t for every dog, but she is a herding dog, so it was perfect for her.

    • Elizabeth says

      Michelle: Thanks for sharing your story! It can seem so overwhelming to fight weight issues, especially in dogs, but your story is very inspiring. Our fosters have lost over 10 pounds at this point. It can be done.

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