Call it puppy fat, sympathy weight from a recent pregnancy, just a few love handles – it really doesn’t matter. If your pup can’t see his paws, he isn’t just big boned, he’s fat. In a world obsessed with thinness, even plus-sized pups are not exempt. And for good reason too. Just look at the risks up to 40% (that’s 17 millions US dogs) face for those extra pounds: Osteoarthritis, heart disease, respiratory conditions, heat and exercise intolerance, and the worst of one all, shorter life. And don’t get us started on his modeling prospects.

If you suspect that your dog is packing on a few too many these days, check out the latest tool from Pfizer. The BARC survey, short for Body Assessment Rating for Canines, gives you the facts on your dog’s risk so you’re ready to work with your vet on a weight reduction plan. In the meantime, try these tips to get some healthier habits in place.


Don’t Crash. Just like us, pups need a slow, steady weight loss to stay healthy and maintain the loss.

Talk to your Vet. Since certain medical conditions contribute to weight gain, talk to your vet before putting your pup on a diet.

Plan Ahead. Work with your vet to set weight loss goals and a specific program and time line for your dog.

Measure Food. If your pup is obsessed with treats, make sure to measure his food and try holding back 1/8 of the serving to divvy out later. This way he’ll still get a few nibbles during the day without binging on high calories table scraps.

Snack Right. Offer up healthy bites like apple slices and carrots when you can’t resist those pleading eyes.

Start Slow. Work up to a more active lifestyle for your dog. Your vet can help set exercise guidelines that consider his muscle, joint, heart and respiratory conditions. In general, a good start would be a 20-30 minute leash walk each day or a swim for more obese dogs.

Get Everybody on Board. Don’t let your pup’s plan get derailed by other family members or friends. A few hearty treats from the neighbor kids could throw off his diet. Get everyone involved for true success.

Make it Stick. Once the pounds are gone, keep up the exercise and measuring his food. This way, it won’t be easy to slip back into old habits again.


The Scoop:

Lean more about canine obesity.

Take the BARC (Body Assessment Rating for Canines) survey.

Thank you to Clare at Dog Topics for the photo.