What causes weight gain in dogs?

Weight Management

The most common reasons for weight gain are the same for dogs as for humans – too many calories in compared to calories out. The dog is eating too much or the wrong kinds of foods and not getting enough exercise to burn them off, leaving an excess to be stored as fat. Poor quality foods can be full of salts and fat, which may encourage the dog to eat more, but the nutritional content in the food is not good.

Signs and symptoms of weight gain in dogs

The most obvious sign of a dog gaining weight is the increase in their fat layers. Initially, the ribs become harder to feel, and the waist thickens when viewed from above until the dog is a straight line either side from ribs to hip joints. The abdominal tuck – the lift in the line of the stomach from behind the ribs to the front of the back leg – also disappears and becomes another straight line.

An overweight dog will have a lower tolerance for exercise. They will move much slower than when fit and healthy and get out of breath very easily.

They may sleep a lot more and could be a bit grouchy and bad-tempered because of how the extra weight is making them feel.

If a collar is worn, it may become tight and need loosening.

What causes weight gain in dogs?

Some dogs find exercise difficult. Older dogs are generally less active and less mobile, and the short-nosed breeds like pugs and bulldogs can become short of breath very quickly meaning they may not be active enough.

Some breeds are more prone to gaining weight. Examples are dachshunds, beagles, golden retrievers, pugs and bulldogs.

Spayed or neutered dogs have a difference in their metabolism according to clinical studies, meaning that they require fewer calories.

Chronic medical conditions can sometimes cause weight gain and will need management in consultation with a vet. These include hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism, better known as Cushing’s disease.

A sudden bloating of the stomach in a usually healthy dog could be GDV (gastric dilatation and volvulus) also known as bloat. This is an extreme emergency and requires immediate veterinary treatment.

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