Dog Food (Canine Diet and Nutrition)/weight gain


QUESTION: I have a 2 year old dog that is gaining weight.  She weighs 59 lbs.  The second to last time we went to the vet, her weight was 47 lbs.  The vet said she looked good at that weight.  The last time we went to the vet, she weighed 55 lbs.  I asked about her weight at the end of the visit and the vet said she looked good but probably shouldn't gain any more.  I remarked that previously her weight had been 47 lbs and the vet said it wouldn't hurt her to lose a little weight not not to worry about it unless she gained more.  I cut her calories back some after that vet appointment so that now she is getting roughly 800 calories per day (down from about 1200).  Nearly every day we go on an hour off-leash hike in the woods (hilly, etc).  She carries 2-2.75 lbs in a back pack during these hikes (we built up slowly to that weight).  She has plenty of energy and will even chase after squirrels in the pack.  But instead of losing weight, she has steadily gained weight so that now she is 59 lbs.  She was much thinner before she was spayed about a year ago and she looked a lot better then.  Could she be gaining weight as a result of the cutback in calories?  That's the only thing I could think would be happening is that her body has realized she's getting less to eat and is trying to conserve it.  I would like to know how to help her lose some of the weight but don't want to cut back on her calories too much because I don't know if that's good for her.  I know it's important that she gets enough to eat.  She seems healthy overall and I doubt that it's some sort of illness that is making her gain weight.  I had her thyroid checked at our last vet visit and it was normal.

ANSWER: Hi and thanks for writing. First, are you sure she has gained fat and not muscle? Muscle weighs more than fat so if you are simply going by the scale this could be deceiving.
A dog often reaching full weight after age 2, so maybe she is normal.  As long as you can feel her ribs she is probably fine.
Since your vet has checked her and says she is okay and you are still concerned, i would suggest you switch her to a lower calorie food and supplement it with freshly cooked diced lean meats and steamed vegetables.  reduce the normal amount of dry food by 1/3 and add the fresh foods to equal the total amount usually served.
make sure she is not eating too many treats, as these can be calorie rich.  Try giving her carrots or green beans.  some dogs love them, she may not, but it is worth a shot.

hope this helps.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am not sure it's not muscle.  I was wondering if it might be since now she is carrying weight.  I am not just going by the scale.  I am looking at her from the top and seeing if I can see a clear waist line, and from the side, if I can see a clear tuck into her hind legs.  I can feel the ribs, barely.  There is a nice layer of fat/muscle that I have to kind of squeeze in order to feel the ribs.

Thanks for the feedback.

I am happy to hear that you can tell the difference, and thanks for getting right back to me.

Again, if your vet says she is okay and her thyroid is good, then you probably shouldn't worry.
But since you are concerned, try reducing her dry food and giving her the home-made supplementation I suggested previously.  She will love it, and if she doesn't lose weight, then maybe she is just a "full figured" gal.  Some of us are just not skinny. :)

In any case, you are a loving and attentive dog mom, giving her lots of exercise and attention. She is a lucky girl.  

Dog Food (Canine Diet and Nutrition)

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Karla Haas


Welcomes questions regarding cooking for dogs, and may be able to provide information regarding pet food quality and ingredients. Not qualified to answer medical questions.


Founder, Rudy Green Inc., manufacturer of a frozen, all natural "people food for dogs". I have been an animal rescue worker for over 20 years and have extensive knowledge of pet food and nutrition.

Bachelors degree in Social Sciences. 20+ years of active volunteerism within Animal Welfare organizations. Over 6 years of studies and hands on research in pet nutrition.

Past/Present Clients
Retail customers include Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Amazon and independent pet supply and grocery stores

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