Why you never see a fat wolf

How modern dog food is making our dogs obese
(and what to do about it)

According to the latest research, more than half the dogs in Britain are obese or overweight. You may think that the main cause is too much food and too little exercise, but it isn’t. The leading culprit is modern, processed dog food.

Modern dog food is high in simple carbohydrate, low in protein and full of harmful fats – a fatal and fattening combination if you happen to be a dog. Even many of the so-called diet dog foods follow the same formula. I can’t understand why manufacturers, who must know the truth of what I am saying, don’t tell their customers. Possibly it is because modern dog food is indescribably profitable.

At any rate, if your dog is battling the bulge, the answer is to stop feeding dried or canned food and to switch him or her to a natural diet. That is to say, the diet he or she would eat in the wild. It’s simple to make at home and the pounds will fall away as if by magic. Best of all, on the diet I recommend your dog will be able to maintain a healthy weight without ever feeling hungry.

How do I know all this? Ten years ago, I started feeding my own dogs a natural diet with great success. Friends and neighbours asked me to make extra food for their four-legged family members and over time I turned what I was doing into a small, artisan business. Nowadays, my colleagues and I feed several thousand dogs a month.

One of the things I noticed early on was that when overweight dogs switched to a natural diet they slimmed down without any apparent effort. This led me to conduct a series of experiments and trials. I wrote my findings up in a report, which was peer-reviewed by 20 vets, all of whom were happy to endorse my work. That report has now been published as a plain-English book: The Lucky Dog Weight Loss Plan: Why You Never See a Fat Wolf.

What do wolves have to do with it? Dogs and grey wolves are essentially the same species. In fact, they are so closely related that they can interbreed. True, over thousands of years, we humans have changed the external appearance of our domesticated dogs. But inside they remain 100% wolf. This is especially true of their digestive systems and it is why dogs thrive on the same diet as a wolf.

Wolves and dogs are carnivores. They can and do eat vegetables and fruit. But their primary source of nutrition is prey – everything from mice and rabbits to sheep and deer. They eat the whole animal, too, including its bones (which provide about a third of their nutrition) and even (disgusting as it sounds) the contents of the stomach. The main reason why you never see a fat wolf is because they are eating their ideal diet – that is to say the diet which their digestive system can process most efficiently.

As most of us do not want to introduce prey into the home the best alternative is to feed our dogs a domestic version of a wild diet. That is to say: raw meat, raw bone and raw vegetables/fruit. This is referred to by scientists as a ‘species appropriate diet’ and it is the perfect option for all dogs, but especially for those with weight issues.

Which brings me to the Lucky Dog Weight Loss Plan. Unusually for any diet, it doesn’t involve counting calories. Instead, the amount you feed is linked to the weight of your dog. For a dog weighing over 10kg with its heart set on a smaller collar size, I usually recommend 1.5% of its bodyweight every day. So, a 20kg dog would receive 300g of food. The food itself would consist of roughly a third meat, a third bone and a third vegetables/fruit using any of the ingredients listed later in this article. It is as simple as that.

The Lucky Dog Weight Loss Plan offers many other benefits. You can obtain all the ingredients from a supermarket or butcher. Preparation need only take a couple of minutes a day. Your dog will lose fat and not muscle mass, which is much healthier. Research has shown that because it is the dog’s natural diet they feel fuller and are less inclined to look at you imploringly for more food. Dogs love the taste and texture of the food. It may help clear up other medical issues, including skin complaints, allergies and digestive problems.

You may be asking yourself whether it really matters that your dog is carrying a little extra weight. If you care about your dog’s health, then the answer is it does matter. Excess weight will reduce your dog’s life expectancy and will make him or her prone to all sorts of serious health problems, including joint disease, arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, respiratory problems, asthma, pancreatitis, diabetes, liver disease, skin issues, cancer and a compromised immune system. Anyway, thanks to the Lucky Dog Weight Loss Plan, slimming your dog down will be both quick and easy.

The Lucky Dog Weight Loss Plan made easy

Example: a dog weighing 20kg would be fed 1.5% of its own bodyweight every day: 1.5% of 20kg is 300g.

It’s based on weight not calories.

The amount you feed is based on the weight of the dog.

There are three core ingredients

The three core ingredients are raw meat, raw bone and raw vegetables/ fruit. These ingredients are tame versions of what your dog would eat in the wild, which is prey! It has to be raw because dogs don’t cook in the wild!

The proportions should be equal

Feed approximately a third raw meat, a third raw bone and a third raw fruit/ vegetables. Approximately? Yes! The percentages don’t have to be 100% accurate every day, providing you balance things out over a period of a week or two. In the wild, dogs eat what is available and receive the nutrition they need over time.

Choose just about any raw meat

Beef, chicken, lamb, rabbit, pork, venison, duck, turkey... you can use any fresh, raw meat you like. The better the quality, the higher the nutritional value.

Variety is important, but it is better not to mix the meats up in a single meal.

The bones must be raw

Dogs have no trouble digesting raw bones but cooked bones are harder and may splinter. Almost any bone is suitable but avoid anything that your dog can swallow whole or which is sharp. There is lots of advice on feeding bones to be found in my book or online and I recommend reading up on the subject first.

Bones are not only highly nutritious they are also nature’s toothbrush and will help keep your dog’s teeth clean. Beef marrow bones, by the way, are delicious (to your dog) but the marrow is fattening and so should be fed in moderation.

You can’t go wrong with wings

Chicken wings are the perfect parcel of bone and meat, although you may want to remove the skin as it is quite fattening.

Raw vegetables and fruit

Raw vegetables and fruit provide your dog with nutrition, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, antioxidants, fibre and other benefits. Almost all vegetables and fruits (without stones) are perfect. However, avoid starchy vegetables (such as potatoes), onions, avocado, high sugar fruits (such as grapes) and certain nuts (such as macadamia).


Vicky Marshall is the author of The Lucky Dog Weight Loss Plan. Why You Never See a Fat Wolf published by Anima. The Lucky Dog Weight Loss Plan is suitable for all dogs. However, if your dog has had recent surgery or has health issues you should consult a vet before making any change to his or her diet. Remember to observe appropriate hygiene standards when handling raw food.