My uncle's dog is obese (too fat) and my uncle wants him to lose weight. As the dog is currently staying with me, I was thinking of reducing his food intake and not giving him food as regularly as before, but I think doing this will affect his health as he is used to his regular food.

How can I make sure reducing his food intake won't negatively affect the dog's health? Is there a trusted way I can help him lose weight without reducing food intake?

The dog's current foods are mainly beef and sometimes a little rice and vegetables. He also enjoys canned food and snacks, which he eats a lot of. The dog is always taken for a walk every morning for about 10 minutes.

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    Weight loss generally comes from one or more of: less food, different food, more exercise. Could you edit this post to tell us more about what he's eating now and what exercise he gets? Also, how old is the dog? – Monica Cellio Oct 30 '13 at 15:41
  • @MonicaCellio Edited – user34 Oct 30 '13 at 15:48
  • Reducing obesity is actually promoting health, not negatively affecting it. Eat less, do more! - this is the only way, no matter whether human or dog. – Ingo Feb 17 '14 at 15:25
up vote 11 down vote accepted

A healthy weight for a dog is typically one where if looking down at the back of the dog you see a noticeable curve inwards where the belly meets the hind quarters. If it seems the hind quarters meet straight with the belly then the dog is overweight.

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More exercise will help somewhat but this isn't always the best option for an older dog that may have joint pain. Change of diet is usually the best approach. Controlling your dogs feedings is the absolute best way to ensure that they stay a healthy weight. This Dog Food Calculator is a really helpful way to find out just how much you really should be feeding them.

Some people like to feed their dog one big meal but I think for increasing an overweight dogs metabolism you will probably want to split their calorie consumption into two or three equal meals a day.

What I would feed them is a dog food without corn wheat or soy. If the dog grew up on beef then it is likely they may not take to a change in diet very well so beef is okay depending on the cut and the fat content. Personally if I was feeding my dog beef, I would mix in some steamed brown rice with boiled hamburger. This will be easy on their stomach and it removes a lot of the fat that you don't want them to eat.

For treats I would give them low or zero calorie snacks like pigs ears, raw hides and dental chews. I would also consider giving them a boiled egg as it will help with their joints and for a nice shiny coat of fur.

Remember it is normal for a dog to get a bit of nausea or diahreah when changing their diet. They do not have as adaptive and complex of a digestive system as humans do, but this is mostly temporary.

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    I've seen that poster (or one very much like it) at my vet's office. – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 0:12
  • I'm familiar with it too; my second dachshund was "grossly obese" when we got him. – JoshDM Oct 31 '13 at 0:39

To elaborate on @maple_shaft's recommendation of healthy, low-calorie treats for dogs, nothing beats appropriate vegetables and fruits. By "appropriate", I refer to vegetables that are safe for your pet to consume.

My dogs have carrots with almost every meal; they also always claim the celery from our orders of chicken wings.

Pumpkin (canned) is a great food filler (though moderation must be taken or it could cause loose stool), and cooked / blanched / boiled green beans and asparagus work great. Not all vegetables are good for dogs; avoid onions, garlic and similar.

You can also try some fruit, including apples, but again in moderation. Be sure not to give them apple seeds, which can contain trace cyanide. Not all fruit is good for dogs; avoid grapes, raisins and similar.

Online research reveals "10 Fruits and veggies that aid in dog nutrition" (Discovery), which backs up my claims (though it doesn't mention asparagus) and adds broccoli, cantaloupe, spinach, pears and oranges to the mix. My dogs do not prefer citrus. The referenced article provides extensive rationales for each, including health benefits beyond those of weight loss.

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    It stands to reason that while wolves are carnivorous, dogs very well may have developed the ability to digest and extract nutrients from vegetables, grains and other types of human food – maple_shaft Oct 31 '13 at 0:00
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    One of our dogs used to love apples. We weren't sure if "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" extended to vets, but ours said it wouldn't hurt anything and we never observed any problems. – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 0:14
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    He got maybe one a week (I didn't mean to be misleading with the "apple a day" thing, oops!), so I guess that was below the threshold. (And he was a big dog -- Irish Setter and big for the breed.) – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 0:34
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    @MonicaCellio Your dog must be a realytive of mine. In autumn, my dog goes to a place near our house, where old apple trees are, and where the floor is covered with fallen apples. Then eats 3 to 5. Every day. (Never had loose stool because of apples.) He also likes oranges. Couldn't believe it myself. – Ingo Feb 17 '14 at 15:23
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    Great answer, in addition to just carrots we were recommended by our puppy class vet nurse to freeze the carrots, this makes a nice summer treat but also helps sooth gums when teething. – Aravona May 28 '15 at 12:37

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