Before we adopted Boogie, we were given his stats by the rescue. He was a pure breed pug, one year old, and he weighed 17 lbs. We were super excited to be adopting a pug! The morning of the meet and greet, we got up early and headed to Brooklyn. Boogie, then named Milo, would be arriving with a bunch of other adoptable dogs from South Carolina. Brooklyn was the last stop on his road trip.
We got there, and lined up with the other adoptive and foster parents as the van pulled up. Out jumped Boogie and my eyes widened. He was….big! Much bigger than the 17 lbs we were imagining. It turns out we read the paperwork wrong, and that messy number 1 was actually a 2. He was 27 lbs!! We took him for a walk to get to know him before signing the adoption papers, and quickly fell in love. We officially adopted him that day, and promptly made a vet appointment.
Pet obesity is an epidemic in the United States. According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. That translates to over 100 million pets.
The vet confirmed our concerns – Boogie was overweight. He would have to lose at least 6 lbs. Thus began a long journey to get healthy and lose the extra chub. 6 lbs may not sound like a lot, but when you’re only 27 lbs it’s more than 20% of your body weight. After months and months of research, trial and error, and patience, we made it to our goal. Here’s what worked for us, and how we got Boogie to shed the weight.
How To Help Your Pug Lose Weight
1. Make Homemade Food
Food was our biggest hurdle on our quest for Boogie to lose the extra pounds. He was allergic to some grains, and we couldn’t find a dog food we liked. Diet dog food is expensive, and sometimes hard to find (especially if you travel!). After speaking to the vet and other dog parents, we decided to feed Boogie homemade food. It was the best decision we could have made. Not only did it help him lose weight, but his chronic ear infections and fold irritation cleared up. You can check out a recipe and video of how we make his food, if you’re interested.
2. Daily Walks
Opening the back door to let your dog out, or bringing them downstairs for a quick pee isn’t enough. Although Boogie goes out 3x a day to do his business, we make sure that at least one of those is a longer walk. That means running an errand around the neighborhood, or just taking a nice stroll together. On these outings, I make sure we’re walking at a good pace and not just stopping to smell every hydrant. He gets to stretch his legs and spend a good amount of time outdoors.
3. Easy on the Treats
Pugs love treats! They’re fun to give as a reward. In fact, every time I open the fridge or a cabinet door, Boogie perks up in the hopes of getting a tasty snack. We never fully cut treats from his diet, as they’re such a good motivator (especially when training!). But we did limit how many he received, and how frequently. Try low calorie treats, and always make them work for their reward!
4. Weekly Dog Park Visits
Going to your local dog park will keep your dog active and social. They’ll have an opportunity to be off leash and around other dogs who will motivate your pug to run and play. We went to the dog park weekly, and while Boogie doesn’t play much, it was still a great opportunity for him to be around dogs and walk around a safe space on his own. If there isn’t a dog park near you, you can always go to a local park, and if it’s too hot or cold to go outside, organize a puppy playdate.
5. Work Out
Did you know that doggy push ups are a thing? Yup! If your dog knows the sit and lie down commands, they can do them. Here’s how: make your dog sit, then lie down, and then come back up to a sit. You can give them a treat after each push-up to motivate them when they start. Then start mixing it up, with a treat after two push-ups, four push-ups, and so on. Work them up to doing them faster, and in unison. Don’t forget lots of praise! This doggy work out helps your pup focus and burn some physical and mental energy.
6. Spread the Word
We love going to pug events or hanging out with other dog people, but sometimes, that can be tricky. People love to bring treats and shove them into little dogs’ mouths to make them happy. While they tend to have the best intentions, they’re hurting anyone whose pet is on a diet or has allergies. Not all treats are created equal, and whatever they’re feeding your dog could be helping to pack on the pounds. Spread the word that your pups diet is restricted and they aren’t to be fed any treats, no matter how healthy. Your dog can help get the word out too, with this “Don’t feed me, I’m on a diet” dog tag.
There’s no way to know if what you’re doing is working unless you do weigh-ins from time to time. They’ll help you keep track of the weight lost, and let you know if you’re on the right path. Make sure to record your weigh-ins and weight, so that you can compare from week to week.
Don’t have a dog-friendly scale? Try this pet scale for easy weigh-ins.
Has your pet ever had to lose weight? Share your journey in the comments!