Designing a Weight Loss Program

Before starting, if you have not reviewed the general principles for sucessful weight management, take a moment to check out “Helping Your Pet Loses Weight”.

What are you feeding?

The first step is to review the food that is being fed. As a general rule, your household pet needs 20 to 25 calories per pound of desired body weight. That means a 12 pound dog with a goal weight of 10# needs 20 to 25 calories x 10 pounds for a total 200-250 total calories.

If you have every counted calories you know this is not a lot of calories. The number calories in a few items people like to feed from the table.

A single egg78 calories
A chocolate chip cookie78 calories
A hamburger354 calories
  • The average cup of dog food has 400 to 500 calories. Beware if you feed the dog food label recommended amount for a household pet. You will create an obese pet.
  • Treats often have 20 to 50 calories per treat. So 4 to 10 treats will add up to the entire daily calorie count for a 10 # dog.
  • Weight loss is not a sprint, but a marathon. Weight loss should be gradual for the safety of your pet. For dogs, a one to three percent weight loss per month is the goal. That means the twelve pound dog with a goal of ten pounds should lose about 0.15 to 0.3 pounds the first month. In the dog, the goal is to lose the weight desired in three to six months.
  • Many diet management programs fail because of the foods which are fed. While pets can lose weight on commerical diets, the numbers are small. The greatest success has been seen with Hill’s prescription Metabolic Diet. Success has been seen in over 90% of dogs Check out our Prescription Diet Rewards.

Dog Food Worksheet

Prescription Diet Rewards – Coming Soon!

Exercise? Yes, exercise is important for weight loss.

Weight loss may be accomplished without exercise. However, building muscle and losing fat increases the weight loss. Exercise helps reset our metabolic rate to increase the calorie burn.

What does exercise look like for our dog?

As with any new exercise program, be sure your dog is healthy enough to start a program. If in doubt, check with the veterinarian in case there are any modifications needed.

Most of us do not exercise dogs even when walking the dog. When walked at a comfortable pace, this usually takes about 25 minutes/mile with numerous 10-20 second breaks to smell the roses. This means walking your dog on a short leash briskly for 20 minutes at least three times per week. Many of these patients benefit from adding our conditioning program.

  1. Replace the collar with a harness to prevent damage and irritation to the trachea (windpipe) while exercising.
  2. Humans use a warm-up routine before exercising. Dogs are designed to go from standing still to a full sprint in seconds. In addition, your dog is walking briskly, not sprintling. Starting at a brisk pace is not a problem for a healthy dog.
  3. Keep the leash close to you within two to three feet of your body. Walk briskly with a goal of 1 mile per 15 minutes. Don’t allow the dog to stop to smell the roses but kep walking straight ahead. With a little work, a brisk walking pattern will quickly develop.
  4. If you have trouble keeping your dog going foward at a brisk pace, then a head harness or halter may be beneficial.
  5. You must walk you dog in brisk manner at least three days per week. The best programs are 5 days per week.
  6. If you have an older pet with joint dsease or health problems, you may need to start off slower. You need to address painful joints or health problems before beginning an exercise program. Many of these pets will benefit from incorporating a conditioning program into the weight loss program.

Exercise program for 5 days per week

Week 130 minutes total10 min brisk followed by 20 min casual
Week 230 minutes total15 min brisk followed by 15 min casual
Week 330 minutes total20 min brisk followed by 10 min casual
Week 435 minutes total30 min brisk followed by 5 min casual
Week 5+40 minutes2 – 20 walks 15 min brisk to 5 min causal

For those starting with a 3 day a week program, simply expand each week’s period into two weeks.

For those cross training, or older patients with joint disease and associated muscle loss, consider adding our conditioning program.

Weight checks!

Checking the weight once a month is very important. A bathroom scale is totally inaccurate for checking the weight. We are happy to offer a courtsey weight check to provide an accurate weight. Weight loss for our pets is not easy. However, if you are working hard trying to help your pes lose weight and and not seeing weight loss, then absolutely switch to Hill‘s Metabolic Diet. If you have already switched, then your pet should be evaluated for diseases or medications, both prescription and over the counter, that may be interfering with weight loss.