Your dog is fat. Thankfully, you’ve spotted it. Following a healthy diet and a strict obese dog exercise plan will have your pup thin, healthy, and back to a happy, pain-free life.
Obesity in dogs has become an epidemic in the United States. How bad is it? An estimated 56% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese.
The sad part is many dog owners don’t know that obesity can reduce a dog’s life expectancy by two and a half years.
This article will jump-start your workouts with an exercise plan to reach your dog’s weight loss goal safely.
Before you begin a diet or exercise plan, always consult your veterinarian. A complete physical and blood work is crucial before starting.
Obese dogs are 2.6x more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
- How much exercise should your obese dog get?
- 4-week obese dog exercise plan.
- Maintaining your dog’s weight.
How much exercise should your obese dog get?
Daily exercise is vital for all dogs. Dogs of every age and size need at least 30-minutes of exercise each day, with more active dog breeds requiring an hour or more. As a general rule,
- Puppies need 5 minutes of exercise twice daily for each month of age. Playtime and short, structured walks should be part of the daily routine.
- Adult dogs need a minimum of one hour of exercise each day. It would be best if you exercised at least twice a day. More playtime in between will make your pup even happier.
- Senior dogs still need 30 minutes of exercise each day—unless instructed otherwise by a veterinarian.
An exercise plan will be essential for your dog’s weight loss journey.
Like transitioning your dog’s diet, your overweight dog should be slowly introduced to more vigorous exercise over time — helping avoid exhaustion or injuries.
Since hour-long walks aren’t always possible, playtime can be the key to extending a dog’s exercise levels. Finding fun and unique games with your dog helps increase the duration of exercise throughout the day.
How long should your dog’s weight loss journey take?
It depends on how overweight your dog is. If your 50lb dog is 5lbs overweight, your weight-loss plan should last six to seven weeks. A healthy weight loss plan for dogs is losing 1 to 1.5% of their body weight each week.
How far should I walk my obese dog?
Start with short walks down the street and add extra steps if your dog looks to be enjoying the walk without struggling. Remember, how far you walk in one direction is how far you need to walk back.
When starting, your primary focus is to protect your dog from overexertion and exhaustion. Even with dogs, you must increase exercise levels gradually.
4-Week Obese Dog Exercise Plan.
This obese dog exercise plan will guide you through one month of exercises with increased strain and intensity each week.
By the end of this exercise plan — along with a weight-loss diet — your dog should trim 4 to 6% of their bodyweight.
Remember, starting is the most challenging part, but maintaining exercise after the 1-week obese dog exercise plan is the most essential.
Week 1: Daily 30-minute walks
40% of dog owners admit not walking their dogs regularly. Week 1 is an opportunity for you to begin the habit of daily walks.
Use your judgment this week to determine if 30-minutes is a struggle for your obese dog. The time is less significant than the daily consistency. But don’t allow that to be an excuse.
For this walk, take it casually. Let your dog smell the flowers and other dogs. After this week, your walk’s purpose, style, and pace will change.
Avoid walking too far if your dog has been immobile for an extended period. Take walks in small circles around the block or down the street and back up, passing your house.
You don’t want to go too far and strain your dog on the way back home.
Week 2: Daily 30-minute walks, no stops during the first half. Plus 10-minutes of playtime.
You’re off to a great start. You’ve now walked seven days in a row totaling three and a half hours of exercise. Now it’s time to take the intensity up.
A regular pace of walking is 20 to 25 minutes per mile. When you add frequent stops, this type of casual stroll isn’t helping to burn the calories your dog needs.
For this week’s exercise, continue your daily walks for at least 30-minutes with no stopping during the first half — no smelling the roses, a fire hydrant, or their new friend Max.
Sustaining an increased heart rate promotes fat burning and improves cardiovascular strength. Also, endurance levels will improve, allowing you to expand the length of your walks.
On the walk back, you can slow your pace and let your dog sniff and interact with other dogs, just not for too long.
New addition: 10-minutes of playtime
While daily walks add endurance and a sustained heart rate, playing fetch gives your dog a chance to raise their heart rate with high-interval sprints. At the same time, tug-of-war lets them use all their pulling strength to burn calories.
Grab your dog’s favorite ball, pull toy, or squeaky and have fun. You can choose to split playtime into mornings and evenings with an afternoon walk or all 10-minutes before bed, encouraging a great night’s rest.
You don’t have to keep playtime inside. Enjoy the sunset after work by playing in the backyard, wrestling in the grass, or throwing the frisbee.
If your dog isn’t one to fetch or play tug-of-war, here are some exercises and game ideas to play:
- Go swimming.
- Hide a strong-smelling, low-calorie treat so they can work a scent trail.
- Purchase a treat dispenser toy.
- Play tag or chase.
- Set up an obstacle course with furniture.
- Play hide-and-seek.
Exercise can become part of your day by setting up a playtime routine — like throwing a ball with your morning coffee and after-dinner hide-and-seek.
Week 3: 30-minute daily walks and 10-minutes of playtime twice a day.
Now that you’re in the routine of daily playtime take the intensity up by adding 10-minutes. If you didn’t in week 2, it’s time to split playing into twice a day to avoid overexertion of your pup.
Continue brisk walks, but limit stops on the walk home too. Take any breaks needed if your dog is showing signs of exhaustion.
When exercising your obese dog, always be aware of how they feel. If your dog seems to be in pain or struggling, stop the activity immediately and consult your veterinarian.
In a hot climate, it’s vital to watch for signs of heatstroke, which can be especially dangerous for obese dogs. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- excessive panting
- excessive drooling
Week 4: 30-minute daily walk with HIIT and 30-minutes of playtime each day.
With 1-hour of daily exercise, you’ve reached an exciting milestone. Those 30-minute walks should feel natural and easy now.
Start introducing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your dog’s daily walks. HIIT means including short bursts of increased strain — a quick sprint or a light jog — in consistent intervals.
To avoid injury, slowly increase HIIT training by starting day 1 with a light 30-second jog every 5 minutes of walking. Depending on your dog’s health and age, you can increase the jog to a sprint or change the interval timing for longer jogs.
High-intensity interval training in humans burns 25-30% more calories. HIIT also increases the metabolic rate after exercise, allowing your dog’s body to burn more calories as they rest until playtime.
In week 4, increase playtime to a total of 30 minutes each day. You can choose how to break up the timing — 15-minutes twice a day or 10-minutes in the morning and 20-minutes at night.
Weeks 5+: Continue to maintain one hour a day of exercise.
Congratulations! Sticking with a 4-week exercise plan is challenging.
It takes 18 to 254 days to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.
Hopefully, daily walks are now a new healthy habit. Keep with the plan, and your happy, healthy dog will thank you.
Continue to weigh your dog weekly for the next two months to check their progress. Tracking your dog’s weight is especially important if you’re transitioning your dog to a maintenance diet.
By preserving a regular exercise routine, any weight gain will tell you they’ve exceeded the proper daily calorie intake.
Daily walks seem like a chore, but it’s the highlight of our dog’s day.
Walks are the best exercise for dogs. It’s a low-impact activity that allows them to see and smell the world.
Some dog breeds are at high risk of obesity. If that’s your dog, be prepared to battle obesity for their entire life.
The typical age for an obese dog is 6 to 10 years of age. If your dog is younger, the most problematic stage is still ahead.
Tips for maintaining a healthy weight for your dog:
- Maintain a healthy, high-protein diet.
- Switch to healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables.
- Always measure and give the exact amount of food.
- Never give your dog human food.
- Maintain a regular exercise program.
- Weigh your dog monthly and adjust their food, and exercise accordingly.
There are almost 30,000 dog walking businesses in the US, with 1.7% growth annually. If time or motivation keeps you from daily walks or completing this obese dog exercise plan, consider hiring a dog walker.
The average cost is $22.56 for a 30-minute walk.
Owners of obese dogs regularly spend 17% more on healthcare. Diabetes costs an average of $900 annually to treat, and arthritis $2,000.
Thankfully, you can avoid it with a 30-minute daily walk.
What exercise does your dog love most? Share this article with others and let us know!