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Obesity in Dogs

By: Dr. Rebecca Remillard

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There are several causes of canine obesity, but whether your dog is overweight because of overfeeding or because of a disease process, he is still taking in more calories than he is using.

Obesity in pets is more commonly due to over-eating (excessive caloric consumption) than disease. The most common cause of obesity is a chronic consumption of calories greater than actual daily energy requirement. Excessive dietary calories are stored as body fat.

Other causes of obesity are due to an altered energy metabolism. Some diseases and conditions can contribute to obesity. These include:

  • Diabetes mellitus. There is a relationship between obesity and diabetes, where overweight and obese animals become insulin resistant. These animals often begin to show the early signs of diabetes mellitus which are excessive drinking, excessive urinating and hunger. As the disease progresses, the dog eventually loses weight.

  • Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease). This condition occurs when the dog's adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol. Affected animals do not usually gain weight, but rather have a fat re-distribution to the abdomen and therefore have a potbellied appearance which mimics weight gain.

    Call your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog is overweight, or if your pet begins experiencing difficulty breathing or exercising or appears unable to get comfortable. Also, have a veterinarian examine your pet to determine if these abnormalities are present before instituting a weight loss program.

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