Dogs LOVE food, so it is not surprising that many dogs struggle with a weight problem. Be sure to check out all our best dog food for chihuahuas posts!
Read on to learn more about our best homemade dog food for weight loss ideas.
NOTE: Please get your vet’s approval for any recipe you decide to make for your dog.
It’s easy for small dogs like chihuahuas to gain weight because well-meaning pet parents think they need more food than they actually do.
Most owners do not realize how serious a few extra pounds can be for a dog. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, being only five pounds overweight puts your dog at risk of developing serious medical conditions.
To effectively help your dog lose the weight he or she needs to lose, a lifestyle change must occur in addition to a diet change. One effective way to help your dog shed the extra pounds is to feed a healthy homemade diet and create a weight loss game plan. Let’s discuss how to do this:
Create a Weight Loss Game Plan
If a dog continues to get excessive treats and lives a sedative lifestyle, reducing the calories of your dog’s meals will only go so far; weight loss must be a lifestyle change.
To help your dog be successful, the first thing you need to do is evaluate your dog’s lifestyle, then create a weight loss game plan to help your dog get his or her beach body back with the guidance of your dog’s veterinarian.
Here are some talking points to discuss with your dog’s veterinarian:
How much weight does my dog need to lose?
Your dog’s veterinarian will evaluate your dog and provide a body condition score. This will help you understand how much weight your dog needs to lose to achieve their ideal weight and what he or she should look like when that goal has been achieved.
How many calories does my dog need?
You can check out this calculator to determine your dog’s caloric needs. You may be shocked by how little they actually need. For example, my Ziggy weighs 5 pounds. He only needs 148 calories a day.
How much exercise is my dog getting daily?
Depending on your dog’s breed, age, and fitness level, their exercise needs will vary. However, all dogs do need exercise.
For a tiny Chihuahua, this could mean a lap around the block in the morning and at night, or for a large pit bull, this could mean an hour walk in the morning and a lap around the block at night.
Daily walks are not only important for dogs but they are also healthy for humans.
Some dogs may also enjoy playing with toys, which is another way to help them be active and offers a bonding opportunity for people with their pups. If you have a dog who is particularly sedate, consider separating their meals into several small bowls around the house so that they must “hunt” for their meal.
You may also consider finding a food puzzle toy to put their food into so they must exert more effort to get their food.
How many treats is my dog eating daily?
A treat is anything a dog is getting to eat other than their meals. This includes treats made specifically for dogs and snacks from the table.
It might not seem like a big deal to give your dog a little one-ounce piece of cheese, but according to Hills Pet, a one-ounce piece of cheese is equivalent to eating one and a half hamburgers for a twenty-pound dog!
In large families, this can really add up; not everyone is aware of what the dog has had to eat and therefore everyone might offer a treat. While your dog certainly would not want this to be discovered, they will never lose a sufficient amount of weight to improve their health if it continues.
To be able to continue offering your dog treats while working toward their weight loss goal, consider feeding apple slices (core, seeds, stem removed), baby carrots, green beans, strawberries, or blueberries instead of manufactured dog treats or table scraps which are usually the highest calorie offenders.
You can also portion out their daily food and set a small portion of it as a treat allowance.
Portion out these healthy treats on a daily basis and be sure that everyone in the family knows that the dog may only have that amount, and when the container is empty, no more treats may be offered. Be sure to save chicken and other meaty savories for training sessions because high-value snacks are needed for training and these items will lose their value if they are fed daily.
How much food is my dog being fed daily?
Keep an eye on your pup’s portions. If fed by a heavy hand, switching to a low-calorie diet will not make much of a difference.
If children are assisting with feeding, ask them to show you how much they are giving the dog.
To communicate to everyone in your family that the dog has been fed, a dog feeding chart magnet may be useful.
You can also pre-portion your dog’s meals for the day ahead of time and the family member in charge of feeding them only has to set out their portion to eat for that meal.
Your dog might not want you to know this, but their meals should always be measured out. Never fill the entire bowl unless that is what the correct measurement is. Filling the bowl nearly guarantees that your pup’s portion will be excessive.
Measuring cups and food scoops are often inaccurate so if you want to be sure you are giving your dog the correct amount of food, you can use a food scale.
Best Homemade Dog Food for Weight Loss
If you will be making your dog’s food at home, be sure to discuss the recipes with your dog’s veterinarian to ensure that all of his or her nutritional needs will be met with the recipe and that all the ingredients are safe for dogs. For reference on what fruits and veggies are dog safe, here is an article by the American Kennel Club (AKC) that contains a comprehensive list.
Balance It is also a great veterinary recommended website for home food formulations.
Here are some of the best reduced-calorie homemade dog food recipes to discuss with your veterinarian:
Mama Porkpie’s Dog Food for Little Fatties by Just a Pinch
**Exercise caution with parsley, as some varieties are not safe for dogs. Discuss this recipe with your dog’s veterinarian.
Chicken, Rice and Vegetable Homemade Dog Food by Dog Slim
**Exercise caution with broccoli. Discuss this recipe with your dog’s veterinarian.
2 of Our Favorite Dog Food Recipes for Weight Loss
NOTE: I would give your dog a daily dog multi-vitamin just to make sure they are getting everything they need.
2 5 oz. cans of tuna packed in water
1 small sweet potato, scrubbed and diced
1 small zucchini, diced
6 oz. green beans (fresh or frozen)
2 t. coconut oil or olive oil
- Steam veggies and stir in a bowl with tuna and oil.
- You can store this in the fridge for 4 days or freezer for 3 months.
- This whole recipe has about 600 calories so use this calculator to figure out how much you should feed of this a day to your dog.
Chicken and Rice with Veggies
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
5 oz. brown rice
2 oz. carrots (fresh or frozen)
2 oz. peas (fresh or frozen)
2 oz. green beans (fresh or frozen)
2 t. coconut oil
- Steam or bake chicken until done and then shred.
- Steam veggies and cut into bite-size pieces if needed.
- Add oil and stir everything.
- Store in the fridge for 4 days or freezer for 3 months.
- This whole recipe has about 550 calories so use this calculator to figure out how much you should feed of this a day to your dog.
Helping your dog achieve and maintain a healthy weight has the potential to contribute to an improvement in their overall health, which has the potential to extend their life span. Take this journey seriously, because it could mean more time with your dog in the future.
Use your dog’s weight loss game plan as an opportunity to help your whole family achieve a healthy weight and healthier habits. The book Get Fit With Your Dog can help guide you on this journey.
This article has been reviewed, fact-checked, and approved by Dr. Paula Simons DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.