Has your dog piled on the pounds? Here's how they can lose weight

If your dog has packed on the pounds from table scraps, here's how to get them back in fighting shape - with the dog diet plan from Natural Instinct.

Every year thousands of us make the pledge to be healthier.

With Lent just around the corner as well, there’s another opportunity to ditch the chocolate and snacks, and make healthier food decisions - if you want to. But what about a dog diet plan for our furry friends?

If you've never put your dog on a diet plan, now might be the time.

It turns out that as we’re snacking, our dogs are snacking too. Research conducted by Natural Instinct, the premium pet food brand, revealed that a staggering 90 per cent of us feed our dog food scraps and leftovers. And it’s not just occasionally, apparently we pass nibbles down from our plates an average of 11 times a month!

As much as this happens because of their big brown eyes and expectant faces, the research reveals another reason. A third of us don’t really know what our dogs can and can’t eat, and 1 in 3 of us have little understanding of what size meals to feed their dog.

MORE: Is your dog depressed? These are the subtle signs to look out for 

This means that without even knowing why, our dogs are piling on the pounds – leading to conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

A spokesperson for Natural Instinct says, “The last five years has seen a concerning increase in pet obesity, with an astonishing 51 per cent of dogs overweight. It has never been more important to look after our canine friends.”

So if you’re one of the hundreds of people who want to improve the health and wellbeing of your dog, you’re in luck – we’ve got the perfect doggy diet plan.

MORE: What do these different dog sounds mean? Here's what your pooch is really trying to tell you when they make these noises

Just like humans, if your dog needs to lose some weight for the good of their health, it’s going to be a calories in - versus - calories out situation. That means lowering their calorie intake and upping the exercise.

Here's what Natural Instinct's Doggy Diet Plan advises...

What should I feed my dog?

Kate Bendix is the author of The Dog Diet. She says, “Feed them roughly 2 to 3% of their bodyweight per day – making sure the food they get is what they need, not what those begging eyes want.”

This means that if your dog weighs 70lbs (roughly the size of a retriever), then you should only be feeding them a maximum of 1.95lbs of food every day.

And that food needs to be healthy. Put away the sausages and bacon, as these types of food are high in fat and salt – the two things that will lead to weight gain and health problems for your dog.

Instead, opt for a whole food diet. But importantly, check with your vet for advice on how to safely transition your dog to a whole food diet before making any changes.

Whole foods include:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Peanut butter
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Pumpkin
  • Rice

If possible, feed your dog raw meals rather than cooked. Raw meals, including meats, are better as they contain plenty of whole proteins, good fats and carbohydrates.

Or if you want to buy whole food for your dog and kick-start their diet plan, why not try store-bought whole food like this Beef and Chicken?

Treats and bones

Every dog needs a bone…and a treat once in a while!

Credit: Getty

Bones are great for dogs. They help to relieve stress and prevent boredom, as well as help maintain healthy teeth and gums. But remember to choose the right size bone for your dog, always supervise them when feeding and separate any rowdy dogs to prevent them squabbling.

What can't dogs eat on a dog diet plan?

There are some foods that dogs should never eat. While some will just give them an upset stomach and you give you the subsequent clean up, others contain toxins will can be fatal.

Dogs should never eat:

  • Chocolate
  • Raisins or grapes
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Cooked bones
  • Gravy and sauces
  • Avocado

How much exercise should my dog have?

“When it comes to fitness, going out for a 20-minute walk around the block and letting your dog meander and sniff every lamppost is the best thing, especially if you’re strapped for time.” Our expert Kate Bendix says, “Sniffing is extremely for good mental health, as is the physical exercise and fresh air. Go at their pace and take a moment for yourself too”.

Other easy ways to get your dog exercising include:

  • Letting your dog walk you: from grass to pavement, let them lead you by the leash and they’ll get the most out of it
  • Train together: going for a run? Take your dog with you
  • Make them work for it: introduce rewards to your dog for mentally stimulating exercises, like responding to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’
  • Bring them with you: dogs are allowed in more places than you think, so whether you’re dropping the kids off or going for brunch, your dog can be getting exercise all the way

At the end of the day, as long as there are less calories being consumed by your dog and more calories being burnt off, they'll lose weight!

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a health and wellbeing writer, working across the subjects of family, relationships, and LGBT topics, as well as sleep and mental health. A digital journalist with over six years  experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace is currently Health Editor for womanandhome.com and has also worked with Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. After graduating from the University of Warwick, she started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness.