Weight Management for Dogs: What to Know About Your Food Choices, Portions & More

Pet parents, listen up! Caring for your pup means more than just grabbing whatever store-bought dog food is on sale and hoping for the best. What, when, and how you’re feeding your dog matters.

In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about helping your dog manage their weight, as well as some common questions you might have:

 

How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

Simply put, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how much to feed a dog. It all depends on factors like your pup’s breed, age, and daily activity level.

And as a pet parent, you’re responsible for feeding your dog the right proportions and nutrients. Maybe you have a picky pup that needs some coaxing and convincing to down a meal. Or maybe your dog has a sensitive stomach that needs some TLC. Or maybe you’ve got an overzealous eater who needs some boundaries put in place. 

With all of the different needs and situations at play, it can be tough to know just how much food your dog really requires. And while it’s always best to consult your vet, here are some general guidelines for a dog who has an average activity level, with actual needs based on specifics like breed, life-stage and body condition:

  • Extra-small dogs (5 to 10 pounds) – 160 – 200 daily calories
  • Small-medium dogs (10 to 30 pounds) – 320 – 480 daily calories
  • Medium-large dogs (30 to 50 pounds) – 640 – 800 daily calories
  • Large dogs (50 to 70 pounds) – 960 – 1120 daily calories

 

You get the gist! 

 

Tip: Want to make things even easier? Let Pet Plate help. Fill out a few important questions, such as your dog’s breed, age, weight, body condition and activity level, and we’ll create a customized meal plan for you. Then sit back and wait for your doorstep delivery. It’s that easy! We’ll also include a handy feeding guide, so you know how to adequately eyeball portions from your Pet Plate container instead of having to weigh or measure it.

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Free Download: Dog & Puppy Weight Charts 

So, how do you know if your dog needs to lose some weight? Understanding the ideal weight for your pup is the first step. Of course, this will vary depending on your dog’s breed and stature. And it gets even more complex if you’ve got a puppy who isn’t quite at their adult size yet. 

Your vet is the most knowledgeable source for this, but we’ll give you some baselines here. The downloadable charts below are categorized by breed type and then broken down further by the size of your dog, from extra-small to large:

  • Sporting Breeds

Sporting Breeds

  • Hound Breeds

Hound Breeds

  • Terrier Breeds

Terrier Breeds

  • Toy Breeds

Toy Breeds

  • Non-Sporting Breeds

Non-Sporting Breeds

  • Herding Breeds

Herding Breeds

As you’ll see from the charts, there’s a lot of variances. Dogs in the herding family, for example, range from short-legged Corgis to large Sheepdogs, so ideal weights will vary. Again, you should always consult with your veterinarian for accurate weight expectations, especially if you have a mixed breed.

 

Best Dog Food for Weight Management

If your dog is already at their ideal weight, great job! Your role as pet parent will be to help maintain it. Outside of watching portion sizes and ensuring daily exercise, the best way to do this is to provide healthy, nutrient-dense meals.

Just as we humans should focus on healthy options like fresh vegetables and lean protein instead of cheeseburgers and french fries, what your dog eats is important for their health and well-being.

The best dog food should include a mix of: 

  • High-Quality Protein – for muscle and joint development
  • Fats – for energy and to help absorb essential vitamins, including A and D
  • Fiber – for intestinal function and keeping your pup “regular”
  • Vitamins and Minerals – for regulating metabolism and protecting the immune system
  • Moisture/Water – to help ensure your dog doesn’t become dehydrated

Wondering where the carbs are? No, your pup isn’t going keto! While not an FDA requirement, carbohydrates are a reliable source of energy for your pup, and complex carbs, such as brown rice and sweet potatoes, contain a lot of beneficial nutrients.

Tip: See how Pet Plate’s meals stack up—navigate to your flavor of choice and click on the “Guaranteed Analysis” dropdown to see the breakdown of nutrients.

Ingredients

 

Best Dog Food for Weight Loss

Did you know that 53% of dogs are overweight? Yikes! Even a few extra pounds can lead to health problems down the road, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. So while you might think your pudgy pooch looks cute, it’s important to get their weight in check.

Ideally, dogs should have an hourglass figure; if you’re looking straight down at them from above, their abdomen will be a bit narrower than their chest and hips. You can also examine their ribs. You should be able to feel them with light pressure, but not visibly see them.

Just remember: there’s no magic weight loss pill for dogs. As a pet parent, it’ll be your responsibility to monitor your pup’s weight and make changes if needed.

If your dog needs to lose some pounds, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Choose Your Food Wisely – Focus on meals with ingredients you can pronounce! Make sure it’s nutrient-dense, and avoid fillers and byproducts. The VCA offers a wise reminder on their site: when it comes to selecting the best food for your pup, get the highest-quality food you can afford.
  • Don’t Ignore Treats & Snacks – Those treats can add up! If you’re doing a lot of reward-based training, you may want to adjust meals to accommodate the extra calories. Also, make sure to choose healthy dog treats instead of the calorie- and preservative-laden options you see in most stores.

 

How to Help a Dog Lose Weight 

In addition to reevaluating what’s in your dog’s food, consider the habits you’re establishing. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Monitor Food Portions – If you’re still not sure about how much to feed your dog, re-read the previous section to get a baseline and check in with your vet! To help your dog lose weight, you’ll need to reduce portion sizes a bit.
  • Consider Their Feeding Schedule – Most vets recommend feeding your dog twice each day, as we mentioned earlier. However, If your dog is overweight, smaller portions throughout the day might actually help. These smaller meals can help keep your pup feel full without a spike in insulin. Check with your vet for the correct way to do this.
  • Get Some Exercise – Don’t forget the importance of exercise! While diet is usually the #1 factor in weight management, making sure your pup is getting enough exercise is important, too.
  • Slow It Down – Does your dog inhale their food the minute you put it down? Consider buying a special dish designed to slow them down as they eat.

Lastly, remember that slow and steady wins the weight-loss race. Just like humans shouldn’t crash diet as a quick fix, it’s best to focus on small reductions each day that will help your dog lose weight over time. This might be as long as six to eight months, with the goal of losing between one and five pounds each month. 

 

Easy Weight Management with Pet Plate 

Want to make life a little easier? With Pet Plate, you can keep your dog at a healthy weight and feel great about what you’re serving. Our healthy meals are made with real ingredients in a human-grade kitchen, with no artificial preservatives or gross byproducts. And with four delicious flavors to choose from, your pup will look forward to every meal. 

Answer a few simple questions, and you’ll get a customized meal plan that’s perfect for your pup. Start now!