Diet food for dogs – the fight against excess weight

At the latest, when your dog loses his waist, it’s time to start thinking. Too little exercise, too much food, metabolic problems or even age can lead to obesity. For your dog to get back his ideal figure, dog diet food is the first choice.

How obesity develops in the dog

Not only people, but also dogs can become too fat. Overweight dogs become for different reasons. Often the calculation is quite simple: Your four-legged friend takes in more calories than he burns. The consequence of this is weight gain. Usually the weight gain happens imperceptibly, until suddenly the excess weight can no longer be overlooked.

Overweight due to too much dog food

Your dog gets the right amount of food for his size and weight and still puts on weight? Then this is probably due to the treats, chews and other snacks that he receives in addition. Especially for dogs that tend to be overweight, it is important to deduct supplements from the food ration.

Note: This does not apply to puppies, but especially to older dogs.

Overweight due to lack of exercise

If you feed your dog according to the food recommendations on the food package and he gains weight, too little exercise can also be the cause. In this case, you should check how much and how long you walk. If your dog is not physically exercised, he will put on fat. More utilization and exercise with the same amount of feed can already be the solution.

Boxer lying comfortably on the sofa. Caption reads: It's not hard to feed your senior dog in an age-appropriate way, allowing him to enjoy a pleasant retirement.
There is nothing wrong with a dog on the couch. But especially with seniors you should pay attention to an adapted amount of food.

Overweight due to chronic diseases

Joint diseases, but also metabolic disorders can lead to obesity in dogs. The former because your dog no longer likes to move and moves slowly due to the pain. In the second case, hormones interfere with the breakdown of ingested nutrients.

Overweight due to medication

In part, overweight dogs are also caused by medications such as cortisone. Diseases such as Cushing’s disease (Cushing’s syndrome), or hypothyroidism (SDU) can also be the cause. However, diseases as causes are rather rare, mostly the dog becomes fat because he eats too much.

Overweight after castration

During castration, the sexual organs, where certain hormones are produced, are removed. However, it is precisely these sex hormones that are involved in metabolism. They also control appetite and satiety. At the same time, energy consumption is reduced by up to 30%.

Just in this case dog diet food advantages. The reduced calorie diet satisfies the dog’s increased appetite with a lower fat content due to the quantity. This avoids constant hunger pangs, begging and frustration in the dog.

Overweight in old age

Less exercise and a slower metabolism with the same food ration makes old dogs get fat. Especially in this case, overweight is particularly harmful. It can lead to cardiovascular problems. The already sensitive or diseased joints are additionally stressed and further damaged.

Recognize overweight dogs

If the ribs and spine are difficult to feel and he has little or no waist, your dog is too fat. This is confirmed by a tactile and visible layer of fat on the chest, back and base of the tail. If the entire torso is already covered with a layer of fat, your dog is not only overweight, but already obese.

Body proportions only partially tell you if your dog is too fat. Depending on size, breed and figure, one dog may still appear slim, while another of the same size and identical weight is already too fat. Besides the figure, there are other ways you can tell your dog’s weight gain, for example:

  • Collar or harness becomes too tight
  • Difficulty walking and running
  • Activity decreases, dog quickly gets out of breath

To help you estimate your dog’s weight, you can refer to various tables. You can judge your dog’s nutritional status from descriptions and pictures. But here, too, the following applies: There is no such thing as a standard weight, not even within a breed. If you are unsure, a veterinarian with his experience can help you.

What dog food is good for weight loss?

If you want your overweight dog to lose weight, there are two options in terms of his diet:

  1. You can reduce the feed ration – also known as the “FdH” method.
  2. Or you can give dog diet food.

The first option is usually not recommended, because less food also means a lower supply of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and deficiency symptoms can occur.

What you can do, however, is reduce treats or go for lower calorie products as a first step. If you decide to buy diet food, you can choose from many different brands. All dog foods for overweight dogs each have one thing in common: compared to normal food, they contain fewer calories.

Various packs of diet and special food treats in one compartment. Label reads: many brands have diet dog food as well as diet treats.
Many brands have diet dog food as well as diet treats.

Ingredients and composition of dog diet food

Contrary to what is often assumed, a diet food for dogs is not intended for weight loss in every case. Diet foods are all foods that not only fill your dog up, but also have a therapeutic effect. So there are diet foods for dogs with gastrointestinal problems, diet foods for kidney diseases or diet foods for joint problems.

Diet food for overweight dogs is designed to reduce weight. This dog food is often called “light”. At least when it is available in supermarkets or feed stores. You will not find the term diet food there, because this special food may only be sold by veterinarians. Hence the name “veterinary feed” or “veterinary special feed”.

The addition “light” is not protected and therefore does not really say much about the offer. Basically, it is just the lowest calorie product of the respective brand. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the ingredients or switching to a “real” diet food right away. In contrast to “light”, this term is protected under EU law.

Shelf with various diet dog food. Label reads: At the vet you can get real diet dog food for weight loss and many other diseases.
At the vet you can get real diet dog food for weight loss and for many other diseases.

What contains diet food?

Diet dog foods are usually complete foods. They contain protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as the so-called nutritional additives, tailored to the needs of the dog. This term includes all the vitamins, minerals and trace elements that your dog needs. The difference from normal food is the reduction of calories.

If your dog is primarily to lose weight, a low-fat diet food is the right choice. A higher content of crude fiber and dietary fiber provide the satiety effect. In other types of food, the protein content is reduced, this additionally relieves the metabolism of your dog. Low protein diet is also important especially for dogs with kidney disease.

Diet dog food in feed law

Not every diet food for dogs is designed for weight loss. Thus, there are diets to reduce urinary stones, for gastrointestinal problems, thyroid disorders or with special nutrients for other diseases. These “feeds for special nutritional purposes” are legally in the range between feed and medicinal products.

The Feed Law (Directive 2008/ 38/ EC) defines dietetic feed even more precisely. In addition to the specific nutritional purpose, the ingredients, composition and especially the declaration of the feed are also prescribed. Thus, the ingredients must be specified exactly. Only then can the veterinarian assess whether the dog food is suitable in each case.

What is low calorie for dogs?

Like humans, dogs get their energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. Proteins are used for muscle building and cell formation, fat is the main energy supplier and important for digestion, coat and skin. Carbohydrates provide quick energy. If this energy is not used, it is converted into fat deposits for emergencies.

A Chihuahua is standing on a chair with his front paws on the table in front of him a plate with vegetables. Label reads: If your dog needs to lose weight, it depends not only on the amount of food but also the content.
If your dog needs to lose weight, it is not only the amount of food but also the content that matters.

Balanced nutrient blends for healthy weight loss

In order for your dog to lose weight, the calories in the food are reduced. However, it does not make sense to reduce only the fat content – which provides the most calories per unit amount. Because if your dog gets too little fat, he gets the energy from the protein. This leads to an additional load on the kidneys.

Even if the fat is replaced by more carbohydrates, this is not really healthy in the long run. The intestines and pancreas have to work harder to utilize them. This leads to an additional burden. Finally, a reduction in protein leads to muscle breakdown. Thus, it is important to have a balanced nutrient ratio with an increased fiber content even when feeding a diet.

Which diet food is best for overweight dogs?

The best dog food fulfills several characteristics. First of all, your four-legged friend must also like it. It is equally important that the dog food is also really reduced in calories and still contains all the necessary nutrients for your darling.

If your dog needs a diet food because he suffers from a chronic disease, the consultation with the veterinarian is especially important. Especially in case of illness, if liver or kidneys are attacked or your dog has gastrointestinal problems, a comprehensive diagnosis and consultation should be made. There are many different offers and brands. And not all variants deliver what they promise and help your dog’s health.

Feeding recommendation for diet food

On the market, many different wet foods or variants of dry foods are available with the addition of “light”. At the vet you can get special diet food as wet food or dry food for dogs with exactly specified ingredients. Both options can help reduce your dog’s weight. Regardless of what you choose, there are several points to consider.

Feed conversion in several steps

The change of feed should be gradual, i.e. in a period of 10 to 14 days. In doing so, you gradually supplement your dog’s food ration with the diet food and reduce the amount of the previous food. With this method you will prevent your dog from reacting with diarrhea or vomiting.

The right amount of feed

If you buy the diet dog food from your vet, they will usually recommend a ration size as well. When switching to a “light” product, you can follow the feed quantity information on the packaging for now. Whether it is wet food or dry food for dogs.

Watch your dog’s weight and adjust the amount down or up accordingly.

Especially with the amount of food you should keep one thing in mind: Your dog must lose weight slowly and continuously, fast crash diets are especially for dogs not useful and sometimes even dangerous. It is important that your dog gets as full as possible on the one hand and eats so little that he loses weight on the other. It may take you a while to find the right measurement.

Diet wet food for more satiety effect

If you have chosen a dry dog food as a diet food, you can increase the satiety effect for your dog by adding wet food – preferably from the same product line. Due to the high water content, the amount fed is greater and your dog is fuller and more satisfied.

Important for the selection

When choosing dog food for your dog’s diet, you should make sure that you choose high-quality dog food with the most accurate declaration possible. If you are unsure or if your dog is already severely overweight or struggling with his health, a consultation will help. Either by your veterinarian or a dog nutritionist.

Portrait of a white dog lying in front of a wall with a salad bowl between his paws. Label reads: To keep you and your dog happy, get advice from your veterinarian or a nutrition expert.
To keep you and your dog happy, get advice from your veterinarian or a nutrition expert.

Wet or dry food as diet food for dogs

The same regulations apply to diet food for dogs in terms of wet and dry food as to conventional dog food: it is mainly a matter of taste. Dry food lasts longer, wet food saturates and tastes better to many dogs. If you feed dry food, make sure to drink enough. If your dog does not drink enough, you can add some water over the dry food.

How long can my dog eat diet food?

Legislation requires feed manufacturers to make certain claims on diet foods for dogs. This also includes that a feeding period of 6 months is indicated on the packaging. However, this does not mean that your four-legged friend can no longer diet. Or even should.

This note states that after this time, you consult with your veterinarian to determine if your dog should continue on a diet. He decides this based on a check of his health, for example, through a weight check or blood count. This regulation applies to diet foods for weight loss, but also to the other types of special foods.

Diet food and snacks

If you are one of those people who reward their dog with treats or like to give snacks in between meals, you need to make some changes in the diet. Training treats should also be low calorie, you should replace snacks like chew sticks or similar with low calorie products like carrots or apples.

Many brands have treats with reduced fat content on offer. Always apply: subtract the amount of treats from the dog food.

Although fruits and vegetables often have a high nutritional value, your dog can hardly utilize them in their raw state. So his need to eat is met without him gaining weight.

A pack of fruit treats for dogs
There are also reduced-calorie treats for dogs.

Small treats as a reward

If your dog is only slightly overweight, you can give the usual treats, but in smaller amounts. To do this, divide cookies and the like and halve or quarter the size and calorie amount per treat. Food-fixated dogs are often satisfied even with the diet dry food. Be sure to subtract the treats from the daily feeding amount.

As a rule of thumb for the amount of snacks and treats, these should make up no more than 10% of the daily calorie count and must be subtracted from the daily ration. Foods for humans are often high calorie. For example, 30 grams of cheese already cover 12% of the daily requirement for a 20 kg dog.

What can I do to make my dog lose weight?

The ideal way to reduce obesity in your dog is to feed him calorie-reduced wet or dry food, combined with adequate exercise. So your dog consumes more than he takes in and thus automatically loses weight. At the same time, his fitness is increased.

How can a dog lose weight quickly?

Best not at all. As with humans, a lasting effect is more likely if your dog loses weight slowly and regularly. If he loses weight too quickly, fat is lost, but also muscle. This in turn reduces its performance, which then delays weight loss.

The best way to deal with your dog’s overweight is to consistently change his diet and make sure he gets enough exercise. Also important is that everyone in the family stick to the diet plan and hold back on giving treats.

Lose weight through exercise

A dog needs enough exercise to stay healthy and slim. The measure must be adapted to the training condition of the dog. Especially if your dog is very fat, you should start with short and leisurely walks that you can slowly increase. This will also help you prevent joint damage.

In addition to moderate walks, which should include play sessions, calorie consumption is boosted by walks in the woods or walking on uneven terrain. Swimming is also an excellent workout that is easy on the joints. As your dog gets leaner and fitter, you can jog or bike with him and gradually increase the distances.

Brown dog runs with mistress on leash over various tree trunks and branches to train coordination
Controlled climbing over poles promotes joint mobility, muscle strength and concentration even in old dogs.

Please also always keep in mind that the different breeds sometimes have very different requirements for food and exercise. Likewise, special care should be taken with puppies and for older dogs.

Dietary supplements as a weight loss aid

To help, you can give your dog diet food as well as weight loss supplements. Some of these contain additional vitamins, minerals and trace elements or also fibers such as lignin or cellulose, which increase the feeling of satiety. This way your dog will lose weight without starving.

Aids for weight loss – so it is easier for your dog

Besides the administration of diet food for dogs, there are several other things you can do to support weight reduction:

  • Anti-gulping bowls reduce the speed of eating and your dog has more of his ration.
  • Food toys such as snack balls, intelligence toys, or a sniffing mat mentally exhaust the dog and he consumes extra calories while getting food.

Diet food for dogs – not only suitable for weight loss

With good diet food for dogs you can effectively support weight reduction in your darling. Due to the balanced nutrient content, your dog will still be provided with everything he needs for a fit and healthy life. Diet food is not only for losing weight.

Even if your dog suffers from chronic illnesses, the right food can alleviate discomfort, ease digestion and significantly improve your pet’s quality of life. Seek advice from your veterinarian on the healthiest way to feed your dog.

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