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Start with Calories – For canine weight loss, the formulas seem simple enough: fewer calories in plus more calories out equals weight loss. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that formula makes it appear. For starters, you should never put your dog on a diet without the assistance of your veterinary healthcare team. This is due to the fact that there may be a medical condition that is causing your dog’s excess weight. Some common diseases associated with weight gain include hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease. These diseases, along with others, should be eliminated as possible causes or contributors to your dog’s weight issue prior to beginning a diet. Too many dogs start on a diet and fail to lose weight simply because the diet wasn’t the problem – a disease was. Let’s start by calculating the calories your dog needs. You’ll first need to have your dog examined by your veterinarian and an ideal weight calculated. Based on your pet’s degree of excess weight, you may choose a target weight higher than the ideal weight to start. My general guidelines for safe weight loss in dogs are 3-5% body weight loss per month.

A basic formula for weight loss in dogs is:

  • Ideal weight in pounds divided by 2.2 give you weight in kilograms (kg)
  • Calculate the Resting Energy Requirements (RER) based on this ideal weight
    • 70 x [(ideal weight in kg)] ¾ or 70 x [(ideal weight in kg) to the ¾ power]
    • or RER in kcal/day = 30(body weight in kilograms) + 70
  • For weight loss in dogs, feeding the RER calories should be adequate. In cases that fail to respond to this amount of calories, the total will need to be reduced.