• Feed him / her for their DESIRED body weight … not their current, overweight body weight. What does this mean ??? If you have a 35 lb dog that should weight ~25 lbs, you need to look at the bag of dog food you are feeding and see what the recommendation is for a 25 lb dog … then feed that quantity ! The caloric density of every food is different. Higher quality foods require a smaller quantity of food (a good way to compare foods, by the way)
  • Bags of food will often give a range of how much to feed (ex. 1 1/2 to 2 cups / day). It’s always best to feed the lower amount listed.
  • Oftentimes, you won’t see the correct amount to feed your dog. If that’s the case, call the company that makes the dog food! They should tell you. Every bag and can has a consumer hotline. Use it.
  • The recommended quantity to feed is what is recommended TOTAL per day. This total amount recommended assumes you are not feeding anything else. If you are going to give treats, then give less kibble!!!
  • Also, there is a difference between an ‘even’ cup of food and a rounded, heaping amount of food! If you give a ‘heaping’ cup of food, then you may be adding ~4 to 10 extra pieces of kibble above the recommended amount. Doesn’t sound like much, but over the course of a year, that’s an extra 1500 to 3650 pieces of kibble per year !!! There are a lot of unwanted calories in that amount of food!
  • Get rid of the MilkBone-type treats !!! First, they DO NOT HELP KEEP TEETH CLEAN! Worse, they add a lot of unwanted calories + have no nutritional value at all! Likewise, trash the Pupperonis, LiverSnaps and other high calorie bombs.
  • If you insist on giving your dog some treats, that’s fine. I give them to my dogs every day.
    So what do I give??? Fresh, steamed or raw veggies! Carrots … broccoli … green beans … zucchini … cherry tomatoes … just try something. Will they like it? Beats me. But you won’t know until you try.
  • What about giving fruits ? I definitely advise that you focus on giving vegetables. And NEVER give grapes or raisins since they can be very poisonous to some dogs (and we don’t know which dogs… so don’t take a foolish chance and find out the hard way).
  • Too many pet owners get hung up on “table food”. We all know in our heart of hearts that there is “good” table food… and “bad” table food. You know the difference. If you know that something is bad for you, don’t give it to your dog! If you know that something is good for you, then feel free to give it to that furry thing with the hopeful, expecting eyes.
  • It goes without saying that activity and exercise are necessary… not only for burning calories, but also for maintaining joint health, mobility and flexibility!
  • There are other factors, however, that must be considered in weight gain. With many females, once they’ve been spayed, they may gain a lot of weight due to the loss of female hormones (estrogens) being produced.
  • Also, different diets work for different pets in different ways… just like people. Sometimes a calorie-restricted diet is not the answer, but perhaps a higher protein / no carbohydrate Atkins-style diet helps some dogs. You simply may have to experiment and be dedicated and disciplined to trying something consistently for a couple of months.
  • Oftentimes, the most difficult part of trying to get your pet to lose weight are other family members who refuse to get involved… or keep insisting on giving treats.
  • If you are dedicated to trying to get your pet to lose weight, but aren’t having any success after a couple of months, then it could be a Thyroid deficiency, which can be tested with a blood sample at a full-service veterinary clinic. If your dog has a thyroid deficiency, these is medication (once or twice daily pills) that can manage the problem.
  • There is no “one size fits all” strategy for all pets. Start with the basics listed above and then experiment if you have to. PLEASE stop killing your pet with kindness ! We know very well the hazards of making poor dietary choices in people. But your pet doesn’t have a choice ~ they will eat what you give them. So, for their benefit, choose wisely ! They will be healthier and live longer, better, happier lives!

Dr Bob Parrish /

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