Image Credit - Staticflickr.com/
If your pet is obese and not responding to changes in physical activity and diet, you need to solve the underlying problem behind his/her weight gain. There are a lot of valid reasons for weight gain apart from the lack of activity and bad eating habits. Here are some of the most common offenders:
- Pregnancy – This is one of the most obvious causes of weight gain and a potbellied appearance. Although it seems obvious, most of the pet owners are unaware that their dog or cat is pregnant till they have a full litter staring at them right in the face. If a female cat or dog is not spayed, she can easily become pregnant, and it will not take that long. If you leave her unattended for a few minutes in the backyard, it could lead to an unwanted pregnancy. So do not put her on an exercise regimen or a strict diet just because she is gaining weight rapidly. She could be pregnant.
- Fluid retention – One of the common side-effects of heart disease is ascites (excess fluid in the abdomen). The enlarged belly is not synonymous with lack of exercise or overeating. Diseases of the internal organs or tumors can also cause the body to react in this manner. In young pups, excess amounts of fluid in the abdomen could be the consequence of abnormal blood flow due to a congenital defect in the heart. Another common cause of ascites is a portosystemic shunt, or liver shunt, where the circulatory system basically bypasses the liver.
- Prescription drugs – There are a few prescription medications which can lead to weight gain, particularly if your dog takes them over a long period. If your pet is on medication and has a weight problem that cannot be controlled through exercise and food management, consult with the vet to make sure that the medication is not related to the weight gain. If it is, the pet will recommend a different medication or a lower dose to avoid further weight gain.
- Parasites – Internal parasites, particularly the ones that lodge in the intestines and abdominal walls, can cause fluid build-up around the infested area, giving rise to a potbellied appearance. This is seen in young pups and kittens whose immune systems aren't strong enough to combat the effects of a parasitic infestation. Your vet will take fluid, blood and stool samples, one or more of which will show positive results if there are parasites in the body. Once your vet determines the specific parasite, he will be able to prescribe an appropriate parasiticide.
- Hypothyroidism – The thyroid glands produce hormones that are responsible for the speed at which the energy in the body is metabolized. Energy is consumed in the form of food, and in a healthy body, the energy is burnt in the course of regular activity. However, underproduction of the thyroid hormones leads to a sluggish metabolism, which leads to an increase in weight. Other symptoms associated with the condition include fatigue, slow heart rate, coarse hair coat and dry, itchy skin. Your vet will conduct a blood test to diagnose it and prescribe appropriate thyroid medication if the test is positive.