Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to help them live a long and happy life. If your dog is overweight, they’ll be at greater risk for health issues and diseases. If they’re underweight, there’s a good chance that they’re malnourished and need better nutrition to stay healthy.
In this post, we’ll share our top 7 tips to keep your dog at a healthy weight. Just follow these steps and it should only be a matter of time before your dog reaches a healthy weight.
1: First, Assess Your Dog’s Current Weight
The first thing you need to know is:
How much SHOULD your dog weigh? Are they currently overweight or underweight?
Try not to get hung up on numbers or scales at this point. The best way to assess your dog’s current weight is by examining them in the following 3 ways:
Check their ribs. Look at your dog’s rib cage. Can you see the ribs? If so, are they just barely visible or are they highly prominent?
Next, slowly rub your hands along your dog’s rib cage. Can you feel the bones there? Or are they hidden beneath a layer of fat?
Ideally, you will be able to feel but not see your dog’s rib bones. They should not be overly prominent, but they should not be completely covered in fat, either.
Look at them from overhead. From a top-down perspective, can you see your dog’s waist? Even thick breeds like bulldogs should have a discernible waistline behind the ribs. If they don’t, they may need to lose a few pounds.
Look at them from the side. When inspecting your dog from the side, do they have an “abdomen tuck?” Ideally your dog will have a upward tuck after its ribs, near the back legs.
Here’s a handy reference chart:
If you’re still unsure as to your dog’s weight, try using this healthy weight calculator for dogs. It will also factor in your dog’s weight, helping to give you a more accurate assessment. This can be especially helpful with long-hair dogs, whose body shape can be partially hidden by their hair.
2: Keep Track Of How Much You’re Feeding Your Dog
At this point, you should be able to place your dog into one of these categories:
- Underweight (needs to eat more calories)
- Overweight (needs to eat fewer calories)
- Ideal weight (don’t change a thing!)
If your dog is already at their ideal weight, then congratulations! You’re doing great—keep it up. But if your dog is overweight or underweight, then you have some work to do.
Right away, you should start writing down how much food you give your dog. Try to be consistent so that they get the same amount of food each day. This should be easy if you use a dry food—just use a measuring cup when you put the food in the bowl.
This is an important step because as you begin to adjust your dog’s food, you’ll want to be able to track your results back to the dietary changes. And in order to do that, you have to keep track of how much you’ve been feeding them.
3: Assess or Weigh Your Dog Regularly
Along with tracking your dog’s food intake, you’ll also want to track their weight. At this stage it’s helpful to use a scale, because that will give you more accurate information about the direction of their weight (if they’re gaining or losing it).
Your best bet will be to write down this information in the same place where you’re tracking their food intake. That way, it will become abundantly clear how their diet is affecting their body weight.
As you do this, remember that there is no exact weight that your dog should weigh. Ideal weights typically come in a range, such as 50-60 pounds. As long as your dog is somewhere within that range, they’ll be fine.
4: Avoid Feeding Your Dog Table Food
Feeding your dog table scraps might seem like a nice gesture, but it’s often a bad idea. Especially if your dog is having weight problems, we recommend NOT feeding them from the table.
Why is that such a bad idea?
If your dog is overweight, table scraps provide them with even more unnecessary calories. And depending on what you’re feeding them, those extra calories could be coming in the form of fattening and unhealthy foods that your dog really doesn’t need.
If your dog is underweight, table scraps could possibly make your dog less likely to eat their normal dog food. And trust us: the last thing a malnourished dog needs is to become a picky eater.
So do the responsible thing and don’t feed your dog table scraps. If you want to feed your dog a treat, choose something that’s healthy and made specifically for dogs—like our Bully Max Soft Chews, which are packed with nutritious protein and vitamins.
5: Give Your Dog Regular Exercise
Exercise is important for all dogs, whether they’re underweight or overweight. It’s great for their mood, their overall health, and can even help maintain a better weight.
It will help overweight dogs to burn off a few extra calories, and it will help stimulate appetite in underweight dogs.
6: Adjust Seasonally And Over Time
Once you find the perfect amount of food to maintain your dog’s weight, does that mean you should always feed your dog that exact same amount of food?
No, not always.
Keep in mind that your dog’s calorie needs will shift along with your dog’s age and activity levels. Most dogs are more active in the summer, when they can go out and play; so they probably need more food in the summer than in the winter.
Likewise, many dogs become a little less active as they get older. So if you notice your dog isn’t as active as they used to be, that may be an indication to reduce their food a little bit.
7: Feed Your Dog A Nutritious Diet
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, feed your dog a high-quality dog food. This is the best way to ensure that they’re getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy without overeating.
And if you’re in the market for a better dog food, we highly recommend checking out our Bully Max 30/20 High Performance Dog Food.
With a hearty 535 calories per cup, this meat-based formula will provide your dog with plenty of calories to grow bigger and stronger. It’s packed with healthy ingredients and vitamins; it contains NO corn, wheat, or soy; and it’s the only performance dog food with a 5/5 star rating from DogFoodAdvisor.com.