Overweight Dog

Overweight Dog: How to Deal with Your Obese Dog?

An overweight dog is classified as weighing 10 to 20% more than normal, while an obese dog weighs over 30% above its standard body mass. 

Increased body weight is an epidemic among canines, affecting one in every two dogs. Excess body weight is not a disease but increases the risk of health conditions. 

Diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease are the top five health risks in an obese dog. The problems are triggered and fueled by excess body weight. 

Overweight dogs have reduced life expectancy and quality of life. Losing excess weight requires a healthy diet combined with daily physical activity. Supplements, such as probiotics and CBD oil, help manage dog obesity.

What is an Overweight Dog?

An overweight dog is a canine with a weight of 10 to 20% above its optimum state. The description of an overweight dog includes a large, rounded face, abdominal sagging, and invisible ribs, spine, or waistline. 

Excessive panting, extreme fatigue, refusal to move, and needing assistance to jump or use stairs are behavioral signs of an overweight dog. 

Increased body weight is visible in 46 to 51% of the dog population, with 1 in 2 dogs being overweight, according to the article “7 Breeds Most Prone to Being Obese and What Overweight Dogs Look Like,” published by Napo in 2022. 

The top cause of overweightness is positive energy balance. A positive balance occurs when the dog’s dietary intake exceeds its energy expenditure by overeating or under-exercising. 

How to Determine an Overweight Dog?

The description of how to determine an overweight dog is given below. 

  • Use a body condition score chart to objectively determine whether the dog has an increased body weight. Examine the dog and compare its appearance with the chart measurements. Most charts use a 1 to 5 scale in which one is emaciated, and five is morbidly obese. 
  • Visually assess the dog’s body condition by looking at its ribs. The ribs are neither visible nor easy to feel upon touch in overweight dogs. An overall oval shape or a lack of nice tapering at the waist is another indicator of increased body weight. Obese dogs have pendulous abdomens and fat hanging from the hips and neck. 

What is Obesity in Dogs?

Obesity in dogs occurs when the dog’s body weight is over 30% more than its normal weight range. The condition is defined as excess accumulation of white adipose (fat) tissue. 

“Obesity is a globally growing concern for both veterinarians as well as for pet owners,” warns a study “Dog obesity: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Management: A Review Paper,” issued in the Pharma Journal Innovation in 2021. 

The study states that “Obesity not being a disease itself can predispose to a number of disorders like osteoarthritis, cardiac-respiratory problems, diabetes mellitus, neoplasia, dermatological disease, and anesthetic complications.”

Canine obesity is an indicator of an underlying condition in some instances, like hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism. 

How to Deal with an Obese Dog?

The instructions on how to deal with an obese dog are given below. 

  1. Calculate the dog’s ideal weight. Visit the veterinarian to conduct a science-based Healthy Weight Protocol that determines how much weight the dog must lose. The vet takes four measurements from the dog, puts them in the system, and estimates the fat index. The protocol calculates the dog’s recommended weight and daily calorie intake. 
  2. Create a healthy diet plan. Collaborate with the veterinarian to create an individually tailored nutritional plan for the dog. Use a high-quality, protein-rich formula loaded with dietary fiber to keep the dog satiated for longer. 
  3. Make an exercise regimen. Create an exercise program and stick to it. Physical activity is vital for obese dog management. Start slow and gradually increase the exercise intensity and duration as the dog builds up condition. 
  4. Measure and monitor progress. Measure the dog’s body weight regularly and keep a diary to record weight loss. Consult the vet and discuss changes in the diet or exercise regimen if there is no significant improvement. 

What are the Risks posed by Obesity in Dogs?

The risks posed by obesity in dogs are listed below. 

  • Dog Diabetes: Obese dogs are at a higher than average risk of developing diabetes or an inability to manage blood sugar levels. 
  • Dog Arthritis: Increased body weight in dogs raises the risk of arthritis and worsens its symptoms, like pain and inflammation. 
  • Dog Cancer: Various types of canine cancer develop more frequently in dogs with an increased body weight. 
  • Dog Heart Disease: Heart disease is widespread in overweight or obese dogs due to increased weight-altering heart structure and function. 
  • Dog Kidney Disease: Excess body weight increases the dog’s risk of developing life-threatening kidney disease. 

1. Dog Diabetes

Dog diabetes is a metabolic and chronic condition marked by high blood sugar (glucose) levels. Diabetes harms the dog’s heart, blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, and eyes. 

Obesity is a significant risk factor for dog diabetes, according to a study, “Feeding, Exercise, and Weight Identified as Risk Factors in Canine Diabetes Mellitus,” published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2006. 

Diabetes is not fully preventable. Maintaining a healthy body weight reduces the risk of diabetes in dogs. Spaying minimizes the occurrence of diabetes in female dogs. 

2. Dog Arthritis

Dog arthritis is a chronic, painful, and progressive joint inflammation that results from wear and tear of the joint structures and impairs the dog’s mobility. 

High adult body weight is associated with a significantly increased risk of arthritis, notes a study, “Body Weight, Gonadectomy, and Other Risk Factors for Diagnosis of Osteoarthritis in Companion Dogs,” issued in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2023. 

Arthritis is not 100% preventable. Adequate exercise, healthy weight maintenance, and the use of joint-friendly supplements delay or slow dog the progression of dog arthritis

3. Dog Cancer

Dog cancer is a group of diseases occurring when cells mutate and start dividing uncontrollably. Cancer affects all tissues and organs in the dog’s body and is fatal. 

Obesity fuels low-grade chronic inflammation, which promotes cancerous changes, says a study, “Obesity, Inflammation, and Cancer in Dogs: Review and Perspectives,” published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2022. 

A healthy lifestyle helps minimize the risk of dog cancer. A Balanced diet, daily exercise, healthy weight management, and limited exposure to known carcinogens are parts of a healthy lifestyle. 

4. Dog Heart Disease

Dog heart disease is an umbrella term that includes various heart conditions. Increased body weight affects the heart and blood vessels. 

Obese dogs have alterations in cardiac structure and function, according to a study, “Cardiac and Metabolic Variables in Obese Dogs,” issued in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2017. 

Dog heart disease has a complex etiology and is not always preventable. A healthy diet, exercise, weight management, and routine vet checkups are critical for minimizing heart issue incidence. 

5. Dog Kidney Disease

Dog kidney disease is any damaging condition that prevents the kidney from working properly. Kidney disease is progressive and fatal if it reaches the stage of kidney failure. 

Canine obesity triggers alterations in kidney function, suggests a study “Effect of Weight Loss in Obese Dogs on Indicators of Renal Function or Disease,” published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2013. 

Dog kidney disease is multifactorial and not preventable. The study explains that the alterations in kidney function in obese dogs improve with weight loss. 

Are Overweight Dogs’ Life Expectancy Short?

Yes, overweight dogs’ life expectancy is short. “Numerous studies demonstrated that obesity can have detrimental effects on the health and longevity of dogs and cats,” reports a study, “The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats,” published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2006. 

Increased body weight predisposes dogs to life-threatening conditions that affect their lifespan and quality. 

Overweight dogs live shorter lives, according to research on the “Association Between Life Span and Body Condition in Neutered Client-Owned Dogs,” issued in the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine in 2018.

The magnitude of the lifespan reduction varies among breeds. For example, obese Yorkshire Terriers live two and a half years less than healthy weighted breed members, while in German Shepherds, the difference is five months.   

How can CBD Oil Help Treat Dog Obesity?

CBD oil can help treat dog obesity directly by balancing appetite and boosting metabolism. Dog cannabidiol (CBD) promotes a healthy appetite and metabolism, which is essential for burning fat. 

CBD has an anti-obesity effect, explains a study, “Alteration of the Canine Metabolome After a 3-Week Supplementation of Cannabidiol (CBD) Containing Treats: An Exploratory Study of Healthy Animals,” published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2021. 

CBD indirectly helps treat obesity by decreasing pain and inflammation, which limit dog mobility. CBD improves mood and regulates blood sugar levels important for healthy food intake. 

The best CBD for dogs brand is Honest Paws. Honest Paws offers a variety of CBD products, including oil, soft chews, and bites. 

What are the Causes of Dog Obesity?

The causes of dog obesity are listed below. 

  • Overfeeding: Feeding the dog too much food is the leading cause of obesity. Frequent meals and high-calorie foods like table scraps contribute to unnecessary weight gain. 
  • Lack of Exercise: Modern dogs live sedentary lifestyles and are not physically active enough to burn the calories taken via food, resulting in obesity.  
  • Genetics: Certain dog breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, are genetically susceptible to weight gain and obesity. 
  • Age: Dogs over five years are less physically active and burn fewer calories during the day, leading to easier weight gain. 
  • Spay or Neuter Status: Changes in sex hormone levels in spayed and neutered dogs affect energy expenditure and satiety levels. 
  • Diseases: Health conditions like hypothyroidism, insulinoma, and hyperadrenocorticism increase the dog’s susceptibility to weight gain. 
  • Medications: Corticosteroids increase appetite and cause abnormal fat deposition, and phenobarbital reduces satiety and provokes overeating. 

How Much Food Intake should you Give to your Dog to Avoid Obesity?

The food intake you should give to your dog to avoid obesity is given below. 

DOG WEIGHT

DOG FOOD SERVING/DAY 

Toy Breeds (3-6 pounds)

1/3 cup to 1/2 cup

Small Breeds (10-20 pounds)

3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups

Medium Breeds (30-50 pounds)

1 3/4 to 2 2/3 cups

Large Breeds (60-100 pounds)

3 to 4 1/2 cups

Giant Breeds (over 100 pounds)

4 1/2 cups per day, plus 1/3 cup for every 10 pounds over 100 pounds


The daily food serving sizes do not apply to highly active dogs, like working or athletic breeds. Certain health conditions, such as thyroid problems and diabetes, require individually tailored portions.  

Treats must always be included in the dog’s daily caloric intake. Quality treats free from added ingredients and empty calories are recommended. 

An example is the Honest Paws All-Natural Jerky Treats and Jerky Bites. The Treats and Bites are made with 100% real chicken or beef and packed with protein. The formula does not contain GMOs, grains, or preservatives and is human-grade.  

What Dog breeds are Susceptible to being Overweight?

The dog breeds susceptible to being overweight are listed below. 

  • Labrador Retrievers: Labrador Retrievers have a “deleted gene” that prevents them from knowing when they are full, according to a study, “A Deletion in the Canine POMC Gene Is Associated with Weight and Appetite in Obesity-Prone Labrador Retriever Dogs,” issued in Cell Metabolism in 2016.  
  • Cocker Spaniels: Cocker Spaniels were historically used to working in the field and eating a lot. Modern breed members live sedentary lifestyles but retain the large appetites of their ancestors, resulting in increased body weight. 
  • Golden Retrievers: Golden Retrievers have zealous appetites and love to indulge in overeating. The breed’s long coat around the waist covers the body shape and makes it hard for owners to notice weight fluctuations.
  • Pugs: Pugs are 3.12 times more likely to be overweight than other breeds, states a study, “Frequency, Breed Predisposition and Demographic Risk Factors for Overweight Status in Dogs in the UK,” published by JSAP in 2021. 
  • Beagles: Beagles are naturally greedy and prone to overeating due to years of selective breeding for exceptional food motivation. Food-motivated dogs are easier to train, which is why the trait is prevalent in Beagles. 
  • Dachshunds: Dachshunds have elongated, sausage-like bodies that make it difficult to determine if they are overweight. One in four Dachshunds is affected by IVDD or intravertebral disc disease, which prevents physical activity and adds to weight gain. 
  • Basset Hounds: The exact reasons Basset Hounds are predisposed to weight gain are unknown. Veterinarians believe that the breed’s preference for an inert lifestyle and susceptibility to painful intravertebral disc disease (IVDD) contribute to obesity incidence. 

What are Preventive Measures to Avoid your Dog being Overweight?

The preventative measures to avoid your dog being overweight are listed below. 

  • Nutritional Plan: Preventing obesity is straightforward when the nutrition is tailored to the dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle. The vet helps determine the optimum meal plan. 
  • Limit Treats: Treats must be used sparingly, and their calories included in the dog’s daily food intake to avoid overfeeding. 
  • No Table Scraps: Never offer table scraps because they are overly high in fat and empty calories and cause stomach irritation. 
  • Daily Exercise: Keep the dog active daily to ensure energy expenditure. The amount of exercise depends on the dog’s age, breed, and health. 
  • Vet Checkups: Routine vet checkups allow for catching certain conditions early on before they cause unnecessary weight gain. 
  • Education: Stay aware of how a healthy dog's weight progresses. Obesity is so prevalent among dogs that increased body mass is mistakenly perceived as normal. 

Can I give CBD Oil to my Overweight Dog Every day?

Yes, you can give CBD oil to your overweight dog every day. CBD oil is low in calories and does not contribute to weight gain. 

Obese dogs benefit from twice-daily dosing, with doses eight to twelve hours apart. Count the calories of the CBD oil daily serving when calculating its daily food intake. A full dropper of CBD oil has around nine calories. 

Can Probiotics Help Obese Dogs Digest Their Food Properly?

Yes, probiotics can help obese dogs digest their food properly. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria and yeasts that inhabit the gut. 

Obese dogs benefit from probiotics, reports a study, “Dietary Supplementation with Probiotics Promotes Weight Loss by Reshaping the Gut Microbiome and Energy Metabolism in Obese Dogs,” published in Microbiology Spectrum in 2024. 

The study found two probiotics, Enterococcus faecium IDCC 2102 and Bifidobacterium lactis IDCC 4301, that enhance systemic energy utilization in response to high caloric intake. 

Dog probiotics are readily available, simple to use, and yield multiple benefits. Probiotics are a natural way of supporting weight loss in obese dogs.