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Why Is My Dog Gaining Weight?

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

Not enough exercise. Getting too little exercise is another common reason dogs gain weight.

The amount of exercise your pooch needs to thrive depends on its breed, age, and size. But a good goal is to aim for at least 20 to 60 minutes of activity with your dog each day. Be careful. If your pets haven’t had much activity lately, don’t suddenly take them for a three-mile run. Get exercise tips from your vet and then start any new workout plan for your pooch slowly.

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.

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