HOW TO Boost Your Dog’s Metabolism

dog jumping in grassDid you know more than half of all U.S. dogs are overweight, and more than 20 percent are obese? If your dog is one of them, one way to help her take off the pounds is to give her metabolism a boost.

What is Metabolism?

Dogs have a higher metabolism than people. But just as with humans, metabolism in dogs is the biochemical process that converts digested food into energy. The calories from the food combine with oxygen to create the amount of energy your dog’s body needs.

Slow metabolism isn’t responsible for making your dog fat – weight gain is actually caused by overeating and not getting enough exercise to burn off those calories. But boosting your dog’s metabolism can help her burn more calories.

Do Some Dog Breeds Have Faster Metabolism?

Smaller dog breeds have faster metabolism than large dogs. “The differing metabolic rate of small versus large-breed dogs continues into adulthood, which means that small dogs need to take in more calories per pound than large dogs,” writes Jennifer Coates, DVM, on “For example, a 10-pound dog may need 400 calories (kcal) per day to maintain a healthy weight, while a 100-pound dog could require 2,250 calories per day.”

Racing breeds, including Greyhounds and Huskies, also have faster metabolism. Interestingly, a 2005 study by Oklahoma State University found that Iditarod-racing sled dogs have an internal switch that allows them to naturally boost their metabolism.

running dog“Glycogen [a starchlike compound that stores energy for quick release] turns out to be a crucial piece of the metabolic switch,” according to a Scientific American story about the study. “During the first few days of racing, sled dogs draw energy from glycogen stored inside muscle cells. But instead of depleting glycogen stores and tiring the muscles, the animals suddenly switch to a glycogen-sparing metabolism. They start drawing energy from sources outside of the muscles.”

What Health Conditions Could Be Slowing Down My Dog’s Metabolism?

If your dog is gaining weight even though you’re not overfeeding her and she’s getting regular exercise, have your veterinarian examine her to rule out these and other health conditions that can slow down her metabolism:

What Can I Do to Boost My Dog’s Metabolism?

  • Be sure to feed your dog a well-balanced diet with easily digestible nutrients and little sugar. “Every dog needs animal fats that can be converted to quick energy as well as carbohydrates (starches) and protein that can be stored as energy and released when necessary,” writes the Dog Owner’s Guide.
  • Be sure to feed your dog the recommended amount for her weight as specified by the brand of dog food. Using a measuring cup can help ensure you’re not overfeeding your dog. See Dog Food FAQs: How Much and What Kind? for more tips.
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise via regular walks, trips to the dog park and other physical activities.
  • Give your dog a daily supplement that contains green tea. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea has thermogenic properties that stimulate metabolism and prevent fat from being stored. All i Love Dogs vitamins and supplements contain decaffeinated green tea, including i Love Dogs Green Tea.

PHOTOS: garyt70, paeppi

Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.

Do you have a question about your dog’s metabolism? Submit it to i Love Dogs’ Ask a Vet here.

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Laura Goldman

Laura Goldman is senior social media writer for i Love Dogs, Inc. She does love dogs. And elephants and turtles. Along with writing about the loves of her life, Laura likes to play with her two pound pups and tell anyone who'll listen just how awesome Pit Bulls are.

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