Overweight dog? Reasons why this might happen.

Fat dog? The obvious answer is, too many calories, not enough exercise — but that’s not all! For dogs, as well as humans, psychology and lifestyle issues often deserve most of the blame, although hormone imbalances, age, illness, and genetics also play minor roles.

Fat dog? The obvious answer is, too many calories, not enough exercise — but that’s not all! For dogs, as well as humans, psychology and lifestyle issues often deserve most of the blame, although hormone imbalances, age, illness, and genetics also play minor roles.

For most obese dogs, the number one contributor to excess fat is a combination of:

  • unlimited food supply
  • boredom and
  • not enough playtime & exercise.

Of course, there’s also the psychological component. Often, this doesn’t mean the psyche of the dog but the psyche of the person who’s responsible for the dog, and who’s responsible for leaving a big bowl of dog food available all day and cutting the half-hour walk down to a five-minute backyard break. Similar to people, dogs carrying extra pounds of weight will experience added pressure on virtually all organs of their bodies. When organs are overloaded, disease and sometimes death are the consequences.

Fat dog: top reasons why this can happen

The health risks to overweight dogs are serious and every dog owner should be aware of them; as well as the following factors that are likely to contribute to excess fat in dogs:

Inappropriate food

When your dog reaches adult size, he or she should be eating adult dog food. Feeding an adult dog high-calorie, puppy food can lead to obesity and orthopaedic problems. Also take care to avoid giving extra treats. The problem is that dog treats are often not calculated into the dog’s daily food intake. A few small snacks a day can be quite a lot of extra calories for a dog. Food meant for people can have a similar effect as dog treats, gradually adding on extra pounds.

Lack of exercise

Big or small, young or old – dogs need to exercise daily. While some breeds have special needs that have to be taken into account, all dogs need to take part in some form of daily physical activity. Without activity, your dog will become bored, unhealthy and obese. And since our dogs are our responsibility, we have to make sure they get the right amount of exercise – especially if we also give them a lot of treats during the day.

Hormonal disorders & diseases

Hormonal disorders such as an underactive thyroid gland, which results in lowered production of hormones, can cause a weight problem. Or a dog’s adrenal glands may produce too much of a hormone called Cortisol and create a condition known as Cushing’s disease. Dogs with Cushing’s disease don’t actually gain weight, but their fat is re-distributed to the abdomen, giving them a pot-bellied look.

Age matters

As your dog ages, and after altering, you need to be especially aware of weight gain. The first sign of aging is a general decrease in activity level, including a tendency to sleep longer, and less interest in long walks and games of catch.

Still, the mentioned causes don’t mean that there’s nothing you can do as a loving dog parent. Here’s how you can start helping your puppy.

Best dog food for overweight dogs

In order to help him avoid a weight problem, consider providing your furry friend a healthy diet plan. Just like humans, dogs are also affected by the amount and type of food they get. Since it’s in your power to decide what diet plan your dog will follow, make sure to consider the following:

  • Make sure your dog eats a complete and balanced diet.
  • When choosing the right diet plan for your pooch, consider the amount of physical activity that he gets on a regular basis.
  • Be careful with snacks. Very often, it’s not the main food which is making your dog overweight, but the additional snacks between meals.
  • Many food types are not harmful themselves, but it’s the size that makes the difference. Food packages come with portion instructions, but you can always ask your veterinarian for more details on the size of the portion that best fits your dog.
  • If you’re still unsure about the amount of food that you should feed your dog, your veterinarian can recommend an exact caloric amount that should be considered for losing some extra weight, based on your dog’s weight, general health condition, and energy level.
  • Consult your vet for getting healthy diet food tips. Some diet plans for dogs are higher in certain types of fiber and these will help your dog feel fuller while ingesting fewer calories.
  • When switching to a healthy diet plan for your dog, do it slowly. Consider adding in more and more healthier food every day.
  • Your overall goal is to create healthy habits for your dog, that will spare him potential health problems in the future. Therefore, aim for a long-term solution, not overnight results.

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4 Comments
  1. Misbah

    Enjoyed a great read. The reasons are well pointed out and elaborated which got me to wonder in-depth about the health risks to obese dogs are life-threatening. As a dog parent in particular, I ought to be mindful of it. What you mentioned above about inappropriate food was alarming to me and for this reason, I’ve opted to take the step of knocking on doors of a dog advisor.

    Do you think I have made the right move?

    • Laura
      Laura

      Dear Misbah,

      Thanks for your comment, I am happy that you enjoyed reading the Tractive Blog.

      Indeed, asking for advices is a good choice and it shows that you are now aware of the dangers of obesity in dogs.
      Always accept feedback with a grain of salt: don’t forget that at the end of the day, you know your dog better than anyone else!

      All the best to you and your four-legged friend,
      Regards,
      Laura

  2. Kathreen

    As in people, dogs carrying extra pounds of weight place extra demands on virtually all the organs of their bodies. When we overload these organs, disease and sometimes death are the consequences. The health risks to overweight dogs are serious and every dog owner should be aware of them. Overweight can give rise to joint problems in dogs. Pet Bounce arthritis medication for dogs can give relief from joint problems in dogs.

    • Christina
      Christina

      Dear Kathreen,

      Thanks for this helpful comment.
      Keep reading the Tractive Blog.

      Best,
      Christina