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Why Is My Dog Gaining Weight?

Weight Gain in Dogs: Common Causes and Treatments continued...

Chronic illness. Chronic conditions like Cushing’s syndrome (hyperadrenocorticism) or hypothyroidism can also cause weight gain in dogs.

Dogs get Cushing’s syndrome when their adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. Along with weight gain, symptoms may include excessive hunger and thirst, heavy panting, a pot-bellied appearance, and hair loss. How hyperadrenocorticism is treated varies, but your vet may suggest adrenal-suppressing drugs or surgery to remove an adrenal tumor.

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is a common problem in dogs and can also be behind your dog’s weight gain. Certain breeds, including Doberman pinschers and golden retrievers, are more prone to hypothyroidism. Symptoms may include lethargy, hair loss, weakness, infection, and less tolerance for exercise. Hypothyroidism is easily treated with hormone replacement therapy.

Other Causes of Weight Gain in Dogs

Genetics plays a part in your dog’s tendency to gain weight, too. Some breeds are just more prone to putting on weight than others.

The breeds more inclined to be obese include American cocker spaniels, basset hounds, beagles, Cairn terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, dachshunds, Labrador retrievers, Norwegian elkhounds, rough collies, and Shetland sheepdogs.

Dogs which have been spayed or castrated are also more likely to be obese, probably because neutering affects energy expenditure and metabolism.

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Overweight

Take a look at your pet. Your dog’s at a healthy weight if:

  • When looking at your pooch from above, you see a noticeable waist.
  • From a side view your dog’s belly tucks up as it leads to its hind legs.
  • You can feel your dog’s ribs without pressing hard at the sides.

Now weigh your dog. You can take him to your vet’s office to use a walk-on scale or weigh him at home (if he is not too big). The easiest way to do this is to:

  • Weigh yourself and then note the number.
  • Pick up your dog.
  • Step back on the scale and record the combined weight of you and your dog.
  • Subtract your weight from the combined weight.

You now know your dog’s weight. Consult your vet to find out if this is a healthy weight for your dog.

When to See a Vet

 Concern about your pet’s weight is all the reason you need to consult your vet.

Your vet can not only diagnose the cause of your dog’s weight gain, but also help you form a realistic, safe weight loss plan for your pet. Crash diets are as bad for your dog as they are for you. Weight takes time to put on, so time is needed to safely take it off. Your vet can help you figure out the most effective way to do that.

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WebMD Veterinary Reference

Reviewed by Audrey Cook, BVM&S on June 25, 2013

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