Vet Reviewed

By The Farmer's Dog | May 20, 2024

Key takeaways:

  • Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is vital for their long-term wellbeing. Dogs in an ideal body condition can live up to 2.5 years longer than those who are overweight.
  • Unfortunately, the majority of American dogs are overweight or obese, and that proportion has increased in recent years.
  • The Farmer’s Dog simplifies the process of controlling dogs’ weight by sending pre-portioned food tailored to each dog’s individual caloric needs.
  • We also offer support and continue to adjust portions as dogs make progress toward an ideal weight.  

One of the most important, and accessible, things you can do for your dog’s health and longevity is to keep them at a healthy weight and ideal body condition. Science supports this common-sense idea: studies show that lean dogs can live up to 2.5 years longer than their overweight counterparts. 

But, sadly, around 60% of American pet dogs are overweight. And one of the things that’s made it difficult for many dog owners to manage their dogs’ weight is that, for too long, portioning their food has been a matter of guesswork. Most pet dogs eat kibble, a product whose vague serving suggestions make it difficult to control how much your dog is eating. 

That’s why The Farmer’s Dog is an ideal option to help dogs who need to lose weight. It’s pre-portioned for dogs’ individual caloric needs, simplifying what used to be the most challenging part of keeping a dog in good shape.

Here’s everything you need to know about keeping your dog in tip-top shape, and how The Farmer’s Dog can help.

“It doesn’t take a lot of weight loss to make the pet feel better. I really try to emphasize that when I’m talking to (pet owners) because it’s a quality-of-life issue as much as a longevity and disease-prevention issue.”
–Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)

How The Farmer’s Dog can help your dog lose weight

The Farmer’s Dog makes it easier to manage your dog’s weight, but we don’t have a special “diet” recipe; this is because all of our ready-to-eat recipes are beneficial for dogs who need to lose weight. Our food includes high-quality protein to promote maintenance of lean muscle mass as your dog loses weight, and contains appropriate concentrations of vitamins and minerals so that—as you reduce your dog’s calories—they still receive all of the essential nutrients their body needs.

And our team offers extra support so that you can confidently give your dog the correct portions of fresh, complete and balanced food as they progress toward an ideal body condition. 

Here’s how we make it easy for you to manage your dog’s weight by acting as your partner in the process:

We start with eliminating uncertainty in portioning, sending you exactly the right amount of food to meet your dog’s weight-loss goals. To determine these portions, we consider factors like your dog’s age, weight, breed, spay/neuter status, and activity level. This ensures that your dog’s daily portions meet their unique needs—in contrast to kibble, whose serving recommendations tend to be measured in “scoops” that correspond to broad weight ranges. When you go to a store and buy kibble in a bag, the company that made it doesn’t know your dog and can only guess about what they need. Because we know our dogs, we can be much more specific.

Throughout your dog’s weight-loss journey, we check in regularly to make sure that they always get the correct number of calories for their current weight.

Because our fresh food is more calorically dense than many varieties of kibble, it may look like less than you’re used to in your dog’s bowl. But as long as the pace of your dog’s weight loss is slow and steady (more on this below), rest assured that they’re getting enough food and essential nutrients. And our food is also clinically proven to be highly digestible, which means that your dog can absorb more of the crucial nutrients they need while losing weight.

Why being at a healthy weight is crucial for your dog

As stated above, research has shown that dogs in an ideal body condition can live up to 2.5 years longer than those who are overweight or obese. Obesity puts extra strain on dogs’ bodies and is linked to a whole raft of health problems including arthritis, chronic kidney disease, bladder/urinary tract disease, liver disease, low thyroid hormone production, diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and cancer. As such, keeping your dog at an ideal weight is one of the best things you can do to increase their chances of a longer, healthier life.

How to tell if your dog is at a healthy weight

Veterinarians typically measure dogs’ body condition by using a 1–9 scale ranging from too skinny (1) to obese (9). It’s always a good idea to consult your veterinarian about your dog’s body condition, but you can also check for yourself at home. Reference the video below or check out our full article for the details. The very short version is:

If you can clearly see all their ribs, they’re too lean.

If you can easily feel—but not see—their ribs, they’re in an ideal body condition. 

If you can’t feel their ribs due to a layer of fat, they are too heavy. 

Your dog’s weight loss should be gradual

The best pace for a dog’s weight loss is slow and steady. You may be anxious to get them into an ideal body condition, but shedding pounds too fast is dangerous and can lead to nutritional deficiencies or other serious health problems. That’s why your dog should lose a maximum of 1 to 2% of their body weight per week. For specific guidance, talk to your vet.

The best weight-management strategy is to develop good habits that are applied consistently over the long term. Remember that, just as a couple of pounds can actually be very significant weight gain for a dog—they typically weigh less than humans, so each pound is a higher percentage of their body weight—the same goes for weight loss. Think in terms of percentages rather than pounds, and follow the guidance above and the advice of your vet. Our pre-portioned fresh food should make this easier to do.

“I just wanted to share before and after photos of Mosa with you. As you can see, she is so much healthier. I mean, look how JACKED she is! We are so grateful we switched foods when we did.”
–Mosa’s person

Exercise helps, too

Most experts will tell you that diet is by far the most important factor in weight loss, but exercise does play a role as well. And exercise can help dogs who are losing weight maintain lean muscle mass. Plus, beyond weight-loss considerations, physical activity is generally beneficial for dogs.

Exercising your dog’s mind, body, and sense of smell on regular walks is a great place to start—just a few short walks a day can make a big difference. These can be gradually increased; an hour a day of exercise is a good target for many breeds. Of course, inactive dogs will need to start slowly—even a short, five-minute walk can be a step in the right direction. If your dog hasn’t been exercising, or you’re not sure how much activity they can handle, consult your vet about what routine is right for them.

Treats count

It’s important to count calories from treats when you’re trying to get your dog into shape and keep them there—treats and other extras should make up no more than 10 percent of a dog’s total calorie intake.

But treats are also a useful training tool and motivator for dogs. Our Snap Sticks treats can help you reward your dog while making sure they stay on track for their weight goals. They’re made from four simple ingredients, are easy to portion, and can be shipped directly to your door as part of your dog’s fresh-food plan.

The Farmer’s Dog can help with weight maintenance and gain, too

The Farmer’s Dog food is great for dogs who need to shed some pounds, but it’s an excellent choice for dogs in any body condition. That’s because precise portioning works no matter what your dog’s weight goals are. And our deliveries and 24/7 customer service make it simple to maintain your dog’s healthy habits; updating their portions is as easy as making a phone call.

Plus, our food is developed by board-certified nutritionists; is made to human-grade safety standards; is highly digestible; contains fresh, gently cooked meats and vegetables; and is complete and balanced for dogs in every stage of life—from puppies to seniors. Dogs of all shapes and sizes can and do benefit from eating it. 

Get your dog’s weight-loss plan started

To help get your dog into their best shape, go to your account page—or sign up for a fresh-food delivery plan.