This is a tough one. A majority of dogs are already overweight or obese. Most of the time we're not even aware of a problem, particularly when it happens gradually.
The first step is knowing what your dog's body should look and feel like.
Can you feel your dog's ribs easily? Does your dog have a visible waistline? Tummy tuck? If the curves on your dog start disappearing (dogs shouldn't be shaped like tubes!), your dog is putting on some extra pounds.
Look how she's beautifully filling in.
That's what people kept saying when Jasmine started loosing her youngster all-legs look. We were none wiser. After all, she was a Rottweiler - those are supposed to be big, right? Then we adopted Bruin who was huge. Just seeing the two side by side made Jasmine look tiny.
It wasn't until we were trying to get to the bottom of a completely different problem when her vet finally noticed that she might be chubbier than she should be. As it turned out, she had an under-active thyroid.
Once treated, the extra weight just melted away.
As we became more aware of what Jasmine's body condition should be, I got serious about keeping her that way. Then she started getting heavier again. I kept reducing her food to the point where I felt that she could not get any less. When discussing her weight with the vet I insisted that I cannot and will not feed her any less food.
We tested her thyroid again, and, in spite of being well managed with medication for quite some time, her levels had suddenly dropped. Adjusting her meds got things normalized once more.
Your dog put on some extra weight. Why?
It is always the "why" that leads to a solution. Quite often the answer to weight gain is simple. Too much food, too many treats, wrong food or treats, too little activity ... It is important to be honest with your vet and particularly yourself. If the answer is simply too many bacon bits, the solution is unpleasant but straightforward.
What if you are positive, like I was, that your dog does not get excessive amount of calories?
There is, actually, a formula that allows you to calculate roughly how many calories a day your dog needs. The formula does look a bit scary but these days, there is an app for everything. SlimDoggy will make the calculations for you as well as help you figure out how much to feed your dog.
If you do want to calculate your dog's energy requirements, the formula and instructions can be found on petMD.
The next important step is to add up how many calories your dog gets in a day. The tricky part is to calculate EVERYTHING, including any treats, table scraps, or supplements.
But what if your dog gets just the right amount of calories and still gaining weight?
If the answer isn't in the bowl, it is in the body.
There are a number of medical causes behind weight gain or the appearance of weight gain. It does make sense that metabolic diseases would have direct impact on weight gain or weight loss.
For me, if my dogs start gaining weight without eating more or exercising
less, hypothyroidism is a prime suspect. Low thyroid function leads to a sluggish
metabolism which means that however little energy is consumed it gets stored as
fat instead of being used.
Cushing's disease is caused by an overproduction of hormones that are
involved in protein, carbohydrate and metabolic regulation. A dog with
Cushing's disease will gain weight while muscles are wasting. The typical
potbelly seen with Cushing’s disease is caused by fat shifting into the abdomen
and a weakening of abdominal muscles.
Some prescription drugs can cause weight gain.
Large abdominal tumors or fluid retention, such as that seen with some types
of heart or liver disease, can cause an enlarged belly that has nothing to do
One way or another, if your dog starts putting on weight, do pay attention.
Veterinarians Answer: 10 Main Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog
Symptoms: Recognition, Acknowledgement And Denial
When Is It An Emergency?
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is
Changes in Urination/Urinary Accidents
Changes in Behavior
What Can Your Dog's Gums And Tongue Tell You?
Excessive Head Shaking
Lumps and Bumps
What Is That Limp?
Nose Bleeds (Epistaxis)
Unexplained Weight Loss
Unexplained Weight Gain
Loss Of Appetite
What Happens in a Dog's Body with Severe Vomiting?
Gastroenteritis is when ...
Whats In The Urine? (Part I: What You Can Notice On Your Own)
What's In The Urine? (Part II: Urinalysis)
A Tale of Many Tails—and What Came Out From Underneath Stories from My Diary-rrhea (part I)
Acute Small Intestinal Diarrhea
Acute Large Intestinal Diarrhea (Acute Colitis)
Chronic Large Intestinal Diarrhea
Chronic Small Intestinal Diarrhea