Why is My Dog Getting Fat and How Can I Help Him Lose Weight?

In this Holiday4Dogs article we look at some reasons why a dog may gain weight and some tips on how to help the portly pooch shift those extra pounds – plus, if you need to shed a bit of blubber yourself, exercising a little more with the dog means you will benefit too. If you are thinking to yourself; “why is my dog getting fat” – read on!

It may seem like an odd question, but there are many reasons why a dog may gain weight. Owners may not realise until their dog’s weight begins to impact on their health and lifestyle. It’s much the same with people – it can be so easy and to gain weight, but not so easy to shift it.

Sometimes, weight gain just creeps up on us and many of us will know that feeling. Before we know where we are, we realise we can’t fit into our favourite clothes, or walking up-hill becomes a bit of a struggle.

Obesity in dogs can lead to unpleasant health complications, just as it can in humans.  Being overweight puts extra strain on joints, muscle tissue, the heart and other internal organs. Some breeds are more prone to health issues than others as a result of being too fat, but all over weight animals are more likely to have reduced life expectancy. In addition, many experts believe diet has implications for dog behaviour too.

Canine health check.

If you notice your dog has gained weight recently it’s important to seek veterinary advice first. Weight gain can be sign of more serious underlying health conditions.

These include conditions such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, or thyroid problems. Certain medications can have an impact on weight and, of course, pregnancy will undoubtedly result in a very rotund female dog.

In general, most animals will gain weight simply from overeating, under exercising, or a combination of the two. There are other factors, such as age and neutering status which can have an impact on a dog’s metabolism and result in weight gain.

It is important to speak to your vet if your dog’s diet or exercise has stayed the same, yet he is gaining weight. Only a vet can advise whether there are other health issues at the root of the weight gain.


Assuming your dog has been checked over and deemed fit, it is time to put your dog on a diet. Your vet may advise a special diet, but you can safely reduce your dog’s current food. Check you are feeding the recommended daily amount. You may want to consider home prepared food (non-human) which is based on a more natural diet. A change of diet is something to consider if the dog has become unhealthily overweight.

However, remember to cut down his daily food amount gradually as a sudden change in quantity, or ingredients could cause tummy upsets. Be careful with toy dogs as they can suffer from hypoglycaemia.

Healthy snack alternatives.

Treats are often a source of weight gain and many processed dog treats are full of empty calories. Giving your dog titbits from the table, or sharing a biscuit with him on your coffee break is sure to contribute to your dog gaining weight.

Human foods should be selected carefully, as many have far too much sugar and salt for dogs. Even in small quantities, this can add a considerable amount of extra weight in short space of time.

Try offering your dog some alternative healthy treats like carrots, apple, blueberries and other dog safe fruits and vegetables.


Exercise is also the best way of keeping your dog trim, but increase exercise gradually. Don’t go from couch to 5k overnight.

Swimming is a great exercise for chubby hounds, because it is low impact, but gives the dog a good workout at the same time. Every dog will have different exercise needs. However, the average dog will need about 30 minutes to an hour of exercise per day; this might be walking, fetching a ball, swimming, running, obedience exercises, or agility.

Try and provide your dog with a combination of different exercises, a couple of times a day.


Unfortunately, it’s often all too easy not to realise just how quickly we can put weight on and the same can happen if we over-feed our pets too. As with human dieting, always take things slowly when reducing your dog’s weight – crash diets can be just as bad for dogs, as they are for people. However, if we need to help our dogs lose weight we may also find we benefit health-wise too. Overall win – win!

This article is for information purposes only and cannot replace advice from a qualified animal health expert. If you are concerned in any way about your dog’s weight, it is important to speak to your vet. Once underlying health issues have been ruled out, your vet will support you to develop a healthy diet for your dog, which will help reduce excess weight and promote health and wellbeing.