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Normal Food or “Diet” Food for an Overweight Dog?

Your veterinarian told you during the annual exam that your dog is “more than a little overweight” and recommended switching your pudgy pooch’s food to a weight management formula. Now you’re questioning if changing dog food is really necessary. Should you feed less of the food they are currently eating? Veterinarians are often asked that question, and their answer will depend on the specific situation. Let’s look at the key reason why a weight management diet is most often recommended.

No. 1 reason behind your veterinarian’s diet recommendation

Your veterinarian has an extremely good reason for recommending a specially formulated weight management dog food: A weight management diet delivers essential nutrients a “dieting” dog requires while providing fewer calories. In other words, your veterinarian wants to help your dog lose weight and improve their quality of life while avoiding nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition.

overweight dogs

Like us, an overweight dog needs to eat fewer calories and get more activity in order to lose weight. A dog that’s dieting only needs fewer calories, not less nutrition. The drawback to feeding less of your dog’s usual food is that you’re also feeding less of the essential nutrients your dog needs to be healthy. That’s because the essential nutrients in adult maintenance dog foods are balanced in relation to the food’s calorie content. And if the amount of food is cut too drastically in an effort to reduce calories, several deficiencies of important nutrients may develop. Weight management dog foods, including Diamond CARE Weight Management Formula for Adult Dogs, are specially formulated to provide the nutrition a dog needs while supplying fewer calories to help your dog lose their extra weight.

Other advantages to feeding a special weight management diet

Diets designed for weight loss offer additional advantages over typical adult maintenance diets when you’re helping your dog lose weight. The specific features will vary from one weight management diet and pet food manufacturer to the next, but typically include some combination of:

  • Lower fat
  • Higher fiber
  • Increased essential amino acids or protein
  • Greater moisture content
  • Added L-Carnitine

Higher levels of fiber and/or protein in food can help improve a dog’s sense of fullness (aka satiety) after eating. Less fat combined with more fiber or water help decrease the calorie content of a given amount of food. Increased protein can also help preserve lean tissues such as muscle during weight loss. And the inclusion of L-Carnitine, a vitamin-like amino acid compound, plays roles in metabolizing fat.

Too much weight puts your canine companion at greater risk for several health issues, including arthritis, insulin resistance (decreased sensitivity to insulin), certain types of cancer and decreased longevity. Excess weight also can negatively affect your dog’s quality of life. If your veterinarian is recommending a weight management food, have your dog try it. They have nothing to lose but their extra weight!

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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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