It happens to all of us: the New Year’s Resolution has worn off, and the couch is more appealing than the gym. Before we know it, everyone, even our beloved pets, is carrying around a few extra pounds. Below, we’ve rounded up 5 tried-and-true tips for keeping your furry friend fit and trim. Bonus: you’ll reap the benefits, too.

Not sure if your dog is overweight? Give your dog a firm rub on its side. If you can’t feel his rib cage, your four-legged friend could stand to lose a few pounds.

  1. Assess. The first step is to take a step back and brainstorm how and why your sweet pup packed on the pounds. Looking at your day-to-day routine is a great place to start: does the doorman sneak him three treats a day? Is she the table-scrap Queen every night after dinner? Do you eyeball meals instead of measuring them? It may not seem detrimental enough to cause weight gain, but you’d be surprised how quickly it adds up (just think about how easy it is to sneak a brownie here or there!)
  2. Figure out the right amount of food intake for your furry friend, and stick to it. This takes a little investigating: dry foods are generally calorie-dense (to provide enough nutrition and energy throughout the day) so eyeballing the amount you feed Fido is a no-no. Once you know your dog’s ideal weight, you should be able to calculate how many cups he needs a day to maintain a healthy size. This dog food calculator is helpful.
  3. Eliminate most – but not all – treats. Some treats, like pig ears, weigh in at over 200 calories. For a small dog, that’s like Thanksgiving dinner! Opt for low-calorie, sugar free treats instead; “training treats” are a safe bet, as they are small and often no more than 5 calories a pop. Some dogs even love healthy treats like carrots and celery, so try experimenting with what’s in your crisper drawer. If you treat it like a treat, your dog has no way of knowing that it’s anything over than one!
  4. Get off the couch! This is a no-brainer, but it may be the most important. Still, it doesn’t have to be a drag. Figure out what makes your dog run fastest – Is it chasing a ball? Playing with other dogs? Running after squirrels? – Then incorporate that exercise into your day-to-day. Rainy day? Spend fifteen minutes playing with your furry friend indoors. We recommend stashing away a few “special” toys (squeaky toys excite dogs easily) for bad-weather days only.
  5. Consult your Veterinarian to create a plan together. At any point during your dog’s “weight-loss journey” it’s a good idea to consult with vet. You can ask questions, discuss meal plans, and double check that you’re on the right track. Good luck!