Written By Camryn Rabideau Great Pet Care
Most pet parents love spoiling their dogs with treats and extra food, but it’s important to keep your dog’s weight in mind when slipping them table scraps. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese1. The Global Pet Obesity Initiative defines obesity as 30 percent above ideal body weight2. Excessive weight gain can put dogs at risk for serious health problems.
If your dog is overweight or obese, the best dog foods for weight loss can help them shed weight quickly and safely while still feeling full and energetic. Here are some of the top weight loss dog foods, as well as tips from veterinarians on how to select the best diet for your dog.
What is Weight Loss Dog Food?
As you shop for a new food for your pet, you’ll see that many dog foods are specifically marketed for weight loss, weight control, or weight management. These foods have a few key differences from standard dog food. “The typical food for weight loss recommended by veterinarians falls into the following categories: high protein and low carbohydrate, high fiber to help your dog feel full, and specific nutrients that promote increased metabolism,” explains Brian C. Hurley, DVM, national medical director at AmeriVet Partners Management Inc.
Dog food for weight loss comes in both dry and wet forms, and either option can be used successfully. “Both dry and canned diets can be effectively utilized for weight loss,” explains Dr. Jessie Markovich, board-certified internal medicine specialist and nutritionist at NorthStar VETS. “Canned foods tend to contain more water and may provide more volume for dogs who are volume driven.”
While there are many weight loss dog foods that can be purchased over-the-counter, your veterinarian may recommend a prescription diet in certain cases. “Veterinary therapeutic weight loss diets, often termed ‘prescription diets,’ are very nutrient dense but less energy dense, which often results in the ability of a pet to eat more food for less calories,” explains Dr. Markovich.
Weight Loss Dog Food: Key Benefits
There are a number of significant benefits to helping your dog lose weight, whether you use a weight loss dog food, increased (appropriate) exercise, or a combination of the two. One study found that normal weight dogs had a median life span of up to 2.5 years longer than overweight dogs3. “Keeping your dog at a good body condition score can help keep him or her with you longer and happier,” explains Dr. Markovich.
Overweight dogs are more prone to a variety of serious medical conditions, including osteoarthritis, joint injuries, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and systemic diseases like heart disease, kidney disease, bladder issues, and liver disease. By keeping your dog at a healthy weight, you can help to reduce their risk of developing one of these serious diseases.