The Atkins Diet for Dogs

Millions of Americans have lost weight with a low-carb, high-protein diet. Now dog owners can apply that principle to their dogs’ diets, too.

Your best friend could be a canine couch potato. More than one out of four dogs is overweight according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. This makes them twice as likely to develop arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Veterinarian Julie Ann Ryan says there’s an easy way to tell if your pooch needs to drop some pounds

"By standing directly over your dog, see if you can identify a waistline on your dog. As you’re coming back from the ribs towards the back legs, there should be a narrow indentation. Another way to tell is by looking at the side of your dog. You should be able to see his ribs and take your hands along the ribs and see if you can feel them easily. You should be able to find the ribs very easily with your fingers," says Ryan.

With the warmer months here, getting fit is top of mind. Just like humans, eating and exercise are key for dogs, and the diet you choose doesn’t have to be difficult for your dog.

New research from Pedigree Food for Dogs, found a high-protein, low-carb diet helped dogs lose weight, while helping maintain muscle. This research is finding its way into new products like Pedigree Weight Loss, which offers dogs a food that’s 50 percent protein – the highest of its kind.

"Our research shows that exceptionally high protein diets can help dogs lose up to 10-percent of their weight over a 12-week period," says Tiffany Bierer, a nutritionist for Pedigree Dog Food.

Want some other suggestions to help your hound shed some pounds? Increase your pet’s exercise. Try doubling their walk time or playing calorie-burning games like fetch or tug of war. Give treats in moderation. But, just like you would do for yourself, add those calories as part of their daily intake. Finally, don’t give in to those cute puppy-dog eyes every time and feed your dog table scraps.