How to help your dog lose weight

Helping your dog to lose weight is not always easy. 
It is often tough to understand if your dog is actually overweight or just a bigger version of their breed.
We have included a traditional veterinary body-composition chart here for you as a helping hand, however this is really just the tip of the iceberg in understanding how to support your dog to maintain a healthy weight, or perhaps lose a few pounds.

As a canine nutrition consultant one top frequently asked question is on weight. Over the years I have noticed many myths holding dogs back from losing weight and have developed some great weight loss tips. I shall share them all here for you.
These diet tips have supported many dogs to not only lose weight, but regain their zest for life too. Dogs have even found themselves better able to move and run easily as inflammation, obesity often go paw in paw.

Traditionally obesity or weight gain has been discussed as the result of one, or both, of two things: excess food consumption and/or lack of exercise-mobility to use the energy from food. Occasionally genetic or ailment related reasons for the lack of energy use can be diagnosed as playing a role too.
Whilst this way of looking at weight change seems logical it is not the whole story, and can at time lead us, and your dog, along a very winding path.


Canine Weight Loss Tips

  • Use pre-portioned meals


At Phoenix Bark we make life easier for you by pre-portioning your dog’s meals, supporting you with a tailored meal plan for safe weight loss.
All you need to do is grab one of our, lovingly hand-wrapped, packages defrost it and serve, knowing that your dog is getting all the fresh nutrition they need from their healthy meal.

  • Try not to Overfeed


Ok… so most of us are guilty at times but remember we are 100% responsible for how much food our dog eats. We must make sure that what we feed allows our dogs to maintain their ideal weight.
At Phoenix Bark we make life easier for you by pre-portioning your dog’s meals, supporting you with a tailored meal plan for safe weight loss.

  • Choose Fresh foods over Processed


Processed Light or Diet foods  for dogs are often higher in starches, lower in protein.

To help a dog to lose weight you’ll need to feed them more protein and less starchy carbohydrates.

It is a myth that Dogs need carbs, starches or fibre for energy.
Fibre from starch is very useful (although in small amounts) to acts as a prebiotic, the food for the probiotics that balance microbiome. However, soluble starches and carbohydrates supply only sugars for immediate energy, and if fed consistently they lead to weight gain.
The truth is most dogs do not get anywhere near the fitness or exercise levels that a dog needing quick release energy would gain from carbohydrates in their diet. Perhaps a fast-paced agility Collie would benefit from them once or twice a week or a racing Greyhound*but pet dogs simply do not.

Dogs are biologically designed to take their energy from Fats, specifically a set of omega fats that are also related to the anti-inflammatory pathways in the dogs body.
Veterinary or science based processed foods offer entirely the opposite fats, the inflammatory versions, as well as being created with predominantly starch or carbohydrate based ingredients. This oddly is despite the fact the science actually shows higher protein to be of more benefit to a dog’s weight loss!*


Processed foods can contain fatty acids that influence weight gain and reduce mobility (much needed for that extra exercise!).
Processed dog foods are also well-known to influence the microbiome balance** to a less healthy state, and thus encourage the laying of fat in the dog’s body.


Deficiencies in nutrients such as Vit D, Iron and even Calcium*** have been linked to weight gain. These nutrients have to be added to processed pet foods after the cooking procedures, but are rarely added back in absorbable forms.

  • Support them with Supplements


Whilst we believe diet holds the key to weight changes, fatty tissue is known to hide away various toxins – accumulated for all sorts of reasons from simply breathing in air pollution to previous diet additives. We would encourage guardians to support their dogs with a lovely liver support blend either from our friends at HolisticHound.ie or from a trusted veterinary herbalist if your dog is on a weight loss plan. www.herbalvets.org.uk

  • Choose healthy, not low fat, Treats


Avoid treats containing starch or grains.
Choose treats that will support a healthy body and that are free of pro-inflammatory, unhealthy ingredients. As with their main dog food, you should be able to recognise all the ingredients!
Long lasting chews are wonderful, to keep a dog satisfied when searching for treats!
We give Barbara chlorella or spirulina tablets as a treat! Or you can freeze broth or raw goat milk kefir into ice cubes, for a healthy longer lasting treat.

Ultimately, we all know that a fresh food diet is healthier for the body. The concept that it is an unhealthy body that lays fat is a growing understanding. We hope we have gone some way to explaining that for you in this blog.

Our blog Canine Obesity – the Hidden Risks highlights the importance of maintaining your dog’s ideal weight.


*(High protein works better for canine weight loss than fibre rich Light foods.)
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9524636/
https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/134/8/2148S/4688901
https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/132/6/1685S/4687693
**https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s13099-017-0218-5-2017
https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12917-017-0981-z
https://doi.org/10.1080/00480169.2021.1975586 (microbiome effects on protein and fat utilisation)
*** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010554/

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