You’ve noticed that your dog has gained quite some pounds and now you’re concerned. You’ve tried everything from increasing the activity levels to reducing the calorie intake but nothing seems to work. Here are some reasons why your dog could be gaining weight.
While this may sound like the most obvious reason, it is also the one that’s often overlooked. If your female dog is not spayed there’s a good chance that those extra pounds are extra puppies. Many dog owners are often unaware of their pet’s pregnancy status and in most cases, it’s pretty obvious. It only takes a few unattended minutes for pregnancy to be a valid reason for the sudden weight gain.
2. You’re Feeding The Wrong Food
Sometimes it’s little to do with how much you’re feeding the dog but it’s more about what you’re feeding. Every dog has a different nutritional requirement and it is often difficult to get it right from the get-go. Not only does the requirement differ from breed to breed it also depends on the life cycle of the dog. The requirements of a senior dog are going to be vastly different from that of a growing puppy. Apart from the life stage it also depends on the activity level. For instance, the nutritional requirement of a senior dog that’s active will be different from that of an inactive senior dog. It is always wise to consult with a vet to decide on the nutritional requirements of your dog.
3. Prescription Drugs
There are quite a few medications that cause weight gain in dogs. This often happens when they’re consumed for a long time. If your dog is on medication and is also experiencing weight gain that is not being controlled even after diet and exercise, the reason could be the medication being consumed. In such cases, you should visit your vet and they might suggest a different medication.
Internal parasites can be the reason behind unexplained weight gain. Many parasites tend to latch onto abdominal walls and intestines thus causing fluid build up in the infected area. This fluid buildup causes a potbellied look in your pet. This condition is more common in puppies and younger dogs as they have a developing immune system and are more prone to parasitic infestation.
To identify the cause, the vet will carry out many tests like blood and stool samples in order to determine the presence of parasites in your pet’s body. After they’ve established the presence and determined the specific type of parasite, they will carry out the necessary treatment.
5. Fluid Retention
Fluid buildup is one of the reasons why your dog might be gaining weight or at least appearing to do so. Fluid retention is one of the side-effects of heart disease in pets. This results in a potbellied appearance that has no correlation to eating or exercise habits of your pet. Apart from heart diseases, there are many other conditions that could be causing your pet to have an obese appearance. These include the growth of a tumor or other diseases in any of their internal organs.
6. Undiagnosed Hypothyroidism
Thyroid glands are the glands that produce thyroid hormones in the body. These hormones are responsible for allocating energy that decides the speed at which the food gets digested and the metabolism speed. If this hormone is not produced in the required quantity and there’s too much energy in the body, it affects the overall metabolism which leads to an increase in weight. This condition is called ‘hypothyroidism’. For pet owners, it can be a little confusing to see that their pet is gaining weight despite eating normally or even lesser than usual. If they are suffering from hypothyroidism, then whatever little food energy that they consume is being stored and not released.
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include coarse hair, fatigue, dry skin, and a slow heart rate. In such cases, it’s best to visit a vet to carry out further tests and medication if required.
Many dogs have a habit of chewing down their food rapidly. This is due to a number of reasons such as their health, personality, living environment, etc. This type of behavior is often called “wolfing down.” Pet owners often notice this behavior and it often looks as if the dog is not even chewing the food but swallowing it. When this happens, the dog is also taking in a large amount of air.
This leads to a stomach that deals with excess air as well as unchewed food and a condition known as gastric dilatation or bloat. One of the symptoms of bloat is an enlarged belly as well as symptoms like trouble in breathing, pain if the abdomen is touched, fast heartbeat, drooling or even collapse. For dogs, this is a critical condition and one that needs medical attention at the earliest. Bloat is more common in large breeds like German Shepherds and Great Danes.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Gaining Weight During Winter
We all struggle with weight gain during the winter months. Whether your struggle lies in preventing it or shedding the weight afterward, you need to understand that weight gain in winter is a fact of life that even a lot of the animals living in seasonal climates have to contend with. As the temperatures drop, their level of activity and metabolism rate drop with it, and they go into hibernation mode. This is not just limited to the animals living out in the wild. Even though we have come up with a lot of ways to stay active and warm, our bodies tend to react with evolutionary preservation methods. This is true for humans and domesticated pets and that’s where the struggle lies. If an active dog starts going outside just for speedy breaks, then it is a sign that the food he is consuming is not getting converted to energy. Meanwhile, you make hardier and larger meals at home, stocking up the leftovers from your holiday meals. Also, a lot of you tend to include your pets in most of your household activities, and that includes sharing your food with them. All the extra eating might cause your canine friend to pack a few extra pounds. So, what can you do the keep the issue at bay?
If your pet’s in good shape and is normally active, create an exercise regimen for the winter months so that he can continue to stay active. These might include games like indoor fetch, a romp through the backyard snow or a brisk hike around the neighborhood when it isn’t snowing a lot. Make sure that your dog gets out as much as possible so that he can burn off those extra calories. It is quite difficult to maintain a daily exercise routine during the peak winter months. In such cases, you must think about cutting back on the calorie intake to account for the lowered metabolic and physical activity. Fewer treats should make all the difference.
Weight loss regimen
If your pet is overweight, you will need to plan it out a bit more as you have to maintain his current weight even if it is more than his ideal body weight. Unless the vet recommends a specific plan, you need to be careful with how much you exercise your pet and reduce his intake. Treats must be eliminated, but you shouldn’t cut down on the food dramatically. Before you embark on an exercise or weight loss plan, you need to check for underlying conditions which might be contributing to the weight gain. Only then is it possible for you and your vet to come up with a sensible diet and a structured exercise program?
If your dog is gaining weight and you’ve tried reducing the calorie intake or increasing their activity levels, you may want to explore the plausibility of a medical condition. This type of weight gain is often a telltale sign of some abnormality and timely intervention can make all the difference for your pooch. With the help of a medical professional, you can choose the best possible treatment for your dog and find the right reason behind their weight gain.