How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Lose Weight?

Filed in Dog Health by on November 14, 2021

How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Lose Weight

Is your dog currently on a weight loss plan? In a prior blog post, I discussed ways to help your dog lose weight, but now you may be wondering how long will it take?

Helping your pup lose weight can be a time-consuming process and doesn’t happen overnight. The entire process can take many months.

While this may be frustrating, the rate at which your dog loses weight is essential. If they lose weight too quickly, it can cause some serious medical conditions.

In this article, I’ll talk you through a healthy timeline for your dog’s weight loss and answer the question: How long does it take for a dog to lose weight? I’ll also discuss why timing matters.

Quick answer: It depends on your dog’s current weight, how much they need to lose, and the rate they can safely lose weight. For most dogs, it can take six to eight months to reach their weight loss goals, but the answer depends on the factors discussed. Ideally, they should be losing 1-2% of their body weight per week.

While this article is vet-written, this advice is general in nature and should not be considered specific to your pet. Please consult with your veterinarian for specific concerns.

Healthy Timeline: How Long Does It Take for Your Dog to Lose Weight Safely? 

The amount of time it will take your dog to reach their weight loss goals is based on several factors. The first thing you need to do is determine your pet’s current weight and how much weight they need to lose.

Next, you’ll need to determine the rate at which your pet can safely lose weight. Ideally, your dog should be losing 1-2% of their body weight per week.

That means that if your dog weighs 50 lbs, they should be losing between half a pound and a pound per week.

While this is a great rule to follow, it can become tricky with smaller dogs. If your dog is only 20 pounds, they should only be losing a few ounces a week.

In this case, it’s better to look at the bigger picture. A dog of this size can safely lose up to a pound in 1 month.

When you combine the amount of weight your dog has to lose with their weight loss rate, you can determine how long the whole process should take.

For most dogs, the entire process can take six to eight months. Remember that this timing will depend on your dog’s starting weight and how much weight they have to lose.

When Will You Start Noticing Results

dog on weighing scale

After starting your dog on a weight loss plan, it can take some time to start noticing results. You aren’t going to see results in the first few days or even the first week.

It can take a month or more before you start seeing visible differences in your dog.

Because weight loss is a gradual process, visual changes may be difficult for you to detect. For this reason, regular weigh-ins can be extremely helpful.

Keeping track of your pet’s weight over time will help you monitor their results and adjust their plan as needed.

Veterinarians typically recommend that pets be weighed at least once a month to monitor progress.

What To Do if You Aren’t Noticing Results

For some dogs, weight loss can be a slow process. However, if your dog hasn’t made any progress after a month, you may need to reevaluate their weight loss plan. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are your dog’s treats being accounted for in their adjusted daily calorie intake?
  • Is your dog getting enough exercise?
  • Have you made the appropriate adjustments to your dog’s meals?
  • Is there a medical condition that hasn’t been addressed?

Gradual weight loss isn’t always a bad thing. As long as they are progressing in the right direction, be patient. It may just mean that your dog will need to stick to their diet for a little bit longer.

Why To Avoid Your Dog Losing Weight Too Quickly

hungry dog

If your dog’s weight loss is happening at a snail’s pace, it may be tempting to try to speed up the process.

However, shedding those extra pounds too quickly can pose some serious risk to your pet’s health. Some of these risks include:

• Nutritional Deficiency

Dog food is formulated to contain a specific balance of nutrients to meet your dog’s daily needs. These daily needs are only met if you’re following the feeding instructions on the label.

If you’re feeding your dog less than the recommended amount, your dog can develop a nutrient deficiency.

Trying to speed up your dog’s weight loss by making dramatic cuts to their food can exacerbate this problem. Signs of nutrient deficiency include a lack of energy, hair loss, change in bowel movements, and depression.

Luckily, corrections can be made to restore your pet’s nutrient balance and avoid more serious consequences.

Specialty diets formulated for weight loss can also help avoid nutritional deficiencies. These diets account for the smaller portions your pet will be eating and balance the nutrient content accordingly.

• Hepatic Lipidosis

Hepatic lipidosis is a liver condition that is sometimes referred to as Fatty Liver disease. It is commonly discussed in cats but can also occur in dogs.

During rapid weight loss, the body begins to break down and mobilize its fat stores. Normally this fat would be processed by the liver and converted into energy.

However, when large amounts of fat are mobilized, the liver can become overwhelmed.

Hepatic lipidosis can lead to decreased liver function and, in some cases, even liver failure. Pets often become lethargic and develop a yellow tint to their skin and eyes, known as jaundice.

Hepatic lipidosis is a serious medical condition that requires veterinary evaluation and treatment.

• Undesirable Behavior

angry dog

While there are medical concerns associated with rapid weight loss, dogs can also develop behavioral issues. Dramatically reducing your dog’s meals can leave your pet feeling hungry and frustrated. Over time, they may start to act out because of these feelings.

Some dogs may become aggressive at mealtime. Others may look for other means of filling their grumbling stomachs. This can result in dumpster diving or consuming food or objects that could be harmful.

Changes to the diet should be made gradually to avoid these issues. If your dog is used to getting large meals, supplement their new portion of food with some canned green beans (Make sure this is okay with your vet first!).

This low-calorie substitute will give the illusion of a larger meal and help them stay full longer.

If your dog is losing weight too quickly, it’s important to reevaluate your pet’s weight loss plan. Consider talking to your vet to see what changes need to be made.

Getting your pet to an appropriate weight is essential to their long-term health, but it must be done safely.


Helping your dog lose weight is a process that requires patience and consistency. It can take months for your dog to reach their ideal weight.

Regular weigh-ins are helpful to monitor your pet’s progress and provide some motivation. Remember that slow and steady wins the race!

By the way, if you’re looking for ways to help your dog lose weight, I wrote an entirely separate blog post on it.

I hope this information serves as a helpful guide to determine how long it will take for your dog to lose weight. I wish you the best of luck on your pet’s weight loss journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *