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How to Help a Pug Lose Weight: 7 Vet Approved Tips

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

fat pug with measuring tape on its waist

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Pugs are fun little dogs that love to play, cuddle, and bond with their human family members. They also happen to love food and will happily munch down on just about anything that they can get their paws on. Unfortunately, research done at the Royal Veterinary College indicates that Pugs are at the highest risk of obesity compared to other canine breeds.1

Pugs have excellent appetites, and they aren’t the most active breed in existence. It’s not their fault, though; their brachycephalic heads make it tough for them to keep up with strenuous activities and long walks.

If you are caring for an overweight Pug, you’re likely looking for a few tips on how to help them lose that dangerous extra weight. You have come to the right place!

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The 7 Tips for Helping a Pug Lose Weight

1.  Find New Ways to Exercise

Exercise is crucial to a Pug’s health and well-being. If a Pug becomes overweight, it is partly because they are not expelling enough energy to compensate for the energy that they are taking in through meals and snacks. So, exercise in addition to calorie management must be introduced or increased when helping a Pug lose weight.

If your Pug is not inclined to go for walks or exercise at the park or if they overheat while doing so, try finding new ways to exercise that won’t be so hard on their body and mind. Swimming in a pool or lake (with a life vest on) might be a good option for your dog. Other options include playing fetch under a tree or a game of hide-and-seek with the kids inside. They can enjoy playing with bubbles, searching for their food and dog puzzles. Mental games also help to burn calories for your dog and are a great addition to physical exercise so get training some cool new tricks.

Keep in mind that if your Pug isn’t used to exercising, they may not enjoy any form of it at first. Start out slowly and increase the activities as your dog becomes accustomed to it. You will need to watch their body cues and stop if they need time to catch their breath.

pug dog swim in swimming pool
Image By: Wasitt Hemwarapornchai, Shutterstock

2.  Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

Making sure you are giving your dog the recommended amount of food per the brand’s instructions is just one aspect to consider when making diet changes for weight loss. If your dog is already eating the recommended amount, chances are that cutting back by 10% and adding exercise will result in weight loss. Remember that they are guideline amounts and you may need to adjust the amount depending on your own dog’s age, weight, size and metabolic rate. Here is a feeding recommendation chart for weight loss based on a Pug’s ideal weight:

Ideal Weight Calories Per Day
10 Pounds 210 Calories
15 Pounds 270 Calories
20 Pounds 340 Calories

Source: VCA Hospitals

If they’re eating more than the daily recommended allowance, it’s important to cut back and increase exercise at the same time.

If you’re unsure about how much you should be feeding your dog each day, talk to your veterinarian. They can recommend a feeding amount and schedule to follow for weight loss, even if just temporarily.


3. Consider Alternative Treat Options

Just because your Pug is overweight doesn’t mean you cannot treat them occasionally. However, instead of grabbing snack dog treats, which are often high in fat and calories, consider an alternative that will provide them with extra nutrition without the unnecessary calories. It is important to reduce dry food amounts if you are also giving snacks. Here are several options to choose from:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Banana chunks
  • Apple slices
  • Cucumber chunks
  • Unseasoned lean meat
  • Weight loss treats
  • A few kibble from their daily allowance

Even with these healthier snack options, don’t allow your Pug to overindulge. Just one or two pieces of a specific snack no more than once a day is plenty to tantalize their taste buds without packing on unwanted pounds.

Pug Dog Eating Mandarin
Image By: Diedov Denys, Shutterstock

4.  Utilize a Slow-Feeder Bowl

A slow-feeder bowl is a great way to get your Pug to slow down during mealtimes so they can better digest their food and not feel so hungry between meals. These bowls have various ridges on the bottom, and the food falls between the ridges. Your dog must then work to get the food out from between the ridges so they can chew and eat it. Not only are these bowls helpful for slowing down the eating process, but they also provide mental stimulation that can improve your dog’s overall quality of life. A slow feeder bowl can also help get your Pug moving more than they normally would when they eat.


5.  Maintain a Diary

It is a good idea to keep a diary of your daily experiences and activities so you can refer back to certain days in the past and determine how much progress you and your Pug have made since you began their weight-loss journey. Document how much food you give your dog, whether any treats were offered (and if so, what type and how many), the type of exercise that your dog participated in, and their overall mood each day.

As the days pass, you can look back to see how well a certain week went and figure out where improvements can be made. You might be surprised at how much progress you make in one week and how little you make in another simply due to things like consistency. If you don’t document each day, it’s harder to get accurate estimates of things like daily exercise habits and food amounts.

woman writing up a plan
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

6.  Take Note of the Little Accomplishments

Something that’s important for you to do as a caretaker of your Pug is to celebrate the little accomplishments throughout their weight-loss journey. Weight loss can be just as frustrating for dog guardians as it is for people dieting. While your dog won’t understand when the numbers are not changing on the scale as quickly as you would like, they can feel your disappointment through energy and body language.

When you focus on small accomplishments, your feeling of success is sure to rub off on your dog. It will also help keep you motivated on the days when you feel bad for your dog, like when they don’t want to exercise or when they’re staring at that piece of pizza you’re holding in your hand!


7.  Become a Team With Your Veterinarian

Always include your veterinarian in your plans and actions when it comes to helping your Pug lose weight. A thorough check up will help eliminate any health reasons for your dog’s issue. Your veterinarian can also provide you with important insight into things like feeding, exercise, and mental health throughout the weight-loss process.

They can help your dog through plateaus, and they will always be there to answer questions when you have them. However, they can only be effective in helping you through your Pug’s weight-loss journey if they have all the facts and information that you have. If they’re left in the dark, they won’t have a clear idea of where to go if something goes wrong and you aren’t seeing the results that you expect to see. So own up to those extra treats and the fact that grandma cooks the dog a pot roast once a week. There is not a lot that will surprise your vet and they are there to help.

Many veterinary practices have free weight loss or “pet slimmer” clinics run by vet techs or veterinary nurses who can spend time helping you on this journey.

veterinarian examining pug dog and cat in clinic
Image By: New Africa, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Pugs are goofy little dogs that love to play around and have a good time. They also happen to love eating, and they are not the biggest fans of exercise. So, it sometimes becomes necessary to step in and put a Pug on a weight-loss regimen for the sake of their health and their happiness. Hopefully, this guide will make the weight-loss journey easier for both you and your dog.


Featured Image Credit: Tanya Dol, Shutterstock

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