Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. December 22, 2016
Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines

See files for Dogs

Overweight dogs may seem funny, but the truth is that obesity has very serious consequences for our best friend's health and lifespan, and so is something we should remedy as soon as possible with effective treatment.

If you do not know what to do to help an obese dog, you should know that moderate physical exercise can help your dog to improve their health and agility and take on an appropriate weight for their age, breed and size. Of course, the dog's diet will also be a factor to consider when controlling weight.

In this AnimalWised article we'll go over physical exercise for obese dogs with tips and guidelines of everything you need to know so that your dog can get back their health and strength. Don't forget to ask your vet for specific tips for your dog's lifestyle.

You may also be interested in: Physical Exercise for Hyperactive Dogs

Causes of obesity in dogs

There are several causes that can lead to your dog becoming obese or overweight. It is very important to identify what is causing the obesity, so we encourage reviewing the following aspects of their daily lives:

  • Sedentary lifestyle: Dogs must have an active routine with walks at least twice daily. They should also practice some physical exercise, even if this is just a run in the dog park. Encouraging your pet to exercise and stay active is key to solving this problem. Have you considered yoga for dogs?
  • Bad nutrition: Obese dogs must follow an indicated diet according to their state of health. Remember that diet feeds are indicated to maintain weight, while those described as 'reduced calorie' are indicated for reducing body volume.

    Only the vet may prescribe the 'reduced calorie' feed as it can have counter productive effects in dogs suffering from other health problems.

    Whatever the feed that you currently offer your dog, you must be sure to comply with the adequate amounts. To do this you must know the weight of your dog and provide the exact amount as indicated on the product bag. Extra feed, treats or human food may be the main cause of your dog's obesity.
  • Castration: Many dogs suffer increased weight after undergoing castration or sterilization. In these cases it is essential to receive advice from a specialist.
  • Health problems: Your dog may suffer obesity due to a health problem that prevents it from metabolizing food effectively.

Even if your dog suffers from obesity due to extra treats or any other banal cause, we strongly recommend that you go to the vet so that they can give your dog a full check up and discard any health problems. Furthermore, you will be able to ask about the specific dry feeds mentioned before.

Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines - Causes of obesity in dogs

Tips and guidelines for exercise for obese dogs

After ruling out any health problems and knowing the ideal weight for your dog you can start treatment to prevent obesity and help them regain a suitable weight. In addition to diet and walks you should start exercising, but not before having some points clarified:

  • An overweight dog cannot be exposed to a sudden start in active physical exercise if they have never before done this before. We should help and provide moderate activity according to its possibilities.
  • Dogs that are overweight may start to suffer osteoarthritis or dysplasia among other issues, problems that could worsen exercise that is too intense. You must be aware that you will not see your dog slim down within a week.
  • Do not exercise your dog more than 20 minutes straight, as excessive exercise could make them suffer and create a situation of stress and discomfort.
  • An obese dog can begin to develop calluses and problems on the pads of their paws due to being overweight. Check their elbows and the base of their legs regularly.
  • Aim for a progressive intensity routine so that your dog receives the exercise positively and gradually. Help them with a positive and loving attitude.
  • Never force your dog to exercise or prolong the exercise sessions if they do not want to. If you have serious problems in making progress you can seek help from a professional such as a dog trainer.
Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines - Tips and guidelines for exercise for obese dogs

1. Longer walks

The first step to start exercising with your dog will be to lengthen the time of your walks so they become used to moving and feeling active. So you can orient yourself, in our article on how many times should a dog be walked we explain the keys to a proper walk:

  • Between 20 and 30 minutes per walk
  • 2 or 3 walks a day
  • Do not pull on the lead
  • Let them sniff
  • Allow it to relate
  • Play with them
  • Encourage and caress your dog
Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines - 1. Longer walks

2. Allow your dog to have freedom of movement

Whether going to your local dog park or to the countryside, you must allow your dog to exercise naturally. Surrounded by other dogs they will be obliged to relate and run with others, and in green areas they will explore and search for traces. A soft and and progressive start is essential for the animal to properly accept.

Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines - 2. Allow your dog to have freedom of movement

3. Chase the ball

Playing chase the ball is a fun way to help your dog move and exercise without realizing it. It is also a great way to work on obedience, reflexes and rapport training.

Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines - 3. Chase the ball

5. Beach and pool

As you know, water is a perfect way for people and animals to exercise and it is a wonderful physical therapy for dogs suffering from obesity as the dog will not carry all the weight on their paws, instead distributing it in different areas of the body allowing exercise of the back, abdomen, legs and neck.

Taking your dog to the beach or pool is one of the best ways to help them lose weight without causing joint and muscle problems.

Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines - 5. Beach and pool


Once the first phase of obesity has been overcome we will be able to enjoy a dog that is slightly overweight. At the moment it has become use to practicing mild exercise we can initiate it into starting moderate exercise, including some jogging or cycling.

Discover in AnimalWised the different types of sports you can practice with your dog and find the one that best suits you. You can also think about doing agility training. Take a look at our article on tips to prevent sedentary habits in dogs for more advice.

Understanding what your dog is like and adapting to their activity style will be essential to finding the best way to exercise.

Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines - Furthermore...

If you want to read similar articles to Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines, we recommend you visit our Sports category.

Write a comment

Add an image
Click to attach a photo related to your comment
What did you think of this article?
Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines
1 of 8
Physical Exercise for Obese Dogs: Tips and Guidelines

Back to top