Thursday, April 19, 2018

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Sudden Weight Gain

I believe that every time you find yourself using the word sudden when describing your dog's symptom, you should figure that the urgency of treatment is equal to the speed of onset. Sudden is a synonym for acute.

Obesity is a real epidemic, but no dog goes to bed skinny and wakes up fat.


When it appears that they do, something is seriously amiss.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Sudden Weight Gain

There are conditions that can cause your dog to gain weight, or look like they did, relatively quickly, such as underactive thyroid or Cushing's disease. But that doesn't happen overnight either. None of these things should be ignored, but they don't constitute an emergency.

If it happens acutely, you're not looking at weight gain but distention or swelling.


In large breed dogs, a common cause of a sudden expansion of the abdomen--and a mother of all emergencies--is GDV, gastric dilatation-volvulus also referred to as bloat. While there is a difference between bloat and GDV, the former can quickly turn into the latter. The abdomen will be visibly enlarged, your dog might be retching without anything coming out and having difficulty breathing and acting distressed. GDV is extremely painful and can quickly become deadly.

If your dog has symptoms like these, call your veterinarian immediately.

Blood of fluid accumulation in the abdomen will also make the belly look enlarged.


A splenic tumor, for example, whether benign or cancerous, can rupture and bleed into the abdomen. Your dog may also act lethargic, weak, and have pale mucus membranes. This too is an emergency.

Excess fluid in the abdomen can be a common side-effect of some types of heart disease, liver disease,  or low blood protein levels that lead to fluid leaking out of the blood vessels.

Other potential serious causes of an enlarged abdomen can be swelling or enlargement of vital organs, infection of the abdomen (peritonitis), a ruptured bladder, or a large abdominal tumor.

Symptoms that can come with it may include lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, signs of discomfort and pain.

Severe intestinal parasite infestation can cause fluid build-up.

When you observe these things, you know you have a very ill dog on your hands.


Other areas of the body can swell up, such as legs with heart failure or swelling of the face or legs with lymphoma.

Even something as deceptively as benign as an allergic reaction with severe swelling can become an emergency in a hurry.

Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?

Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?

Learn how to detect and interpret the signs of a potential problem.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog has won the following awards:

13 comments

  1. Thanks for this great info although I am blessed and Layla is the perfect weight phew, but I do watch her carefully for everything especially as she is aging slowly

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    1. This actually is not about obesity issues; sudden weight gain is not that your dog gets fat overnight, it's about different medical problems altogether.

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  2. I always appreciate learning the warning signs, so I'm better prepared to make the right decision (call the vet NOW! versus call the vet in the morning.) Thanks for helping us be better informed dog lovers!

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    1. It's important to know when one ought to be calling the vet NOW. The things above definitely qualify.

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  3. You never really think about that, do you? About sudden weight gain, I mean. Peeps worry like mad when we cats lose weight quickly, but they need to be gettin' us checked out when we gain weight quickly, too. purrs

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    1. I do ... that's why I wrote the article :-) But in general, no, not something you'd think about. Every time there is the word sudden, that equals acute and that equals a big problem.

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  4. These are signs that the novice big dog owner may be unaware of but need to know can happen. So many things can happen and a book like yours is a must read!

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    1. Thank you, Amelia. Did you read it? What did you think?

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  5. Very helpful information for dog owners. Thanks for pointing out the potential symptoms and ailments that could impact dogs with sudden weight gain. This post will help pet parents realize that sudden weight gain isn't something to take lightly and see a vet.

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    1. Yes, any symptoms that crop up suddenly do need quick medical attention.

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  6. wow this is certainly eye opening I like to understand pet health so that when the time comes I can identify if there is something wrong with my pets. Thanks!

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    1. I hope that my blog can help you with that some.

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  7. Weight gain in your pup can also stem from health related medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism. Some predisposed breeds such as English Bulldogs, Pugs and Beagles are susceptible to this nutritional disease as well.
    World of Animals

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