Ask Dr. Tory: Why Is My Dog Gaining Weight?

by Dr. Tory Waxman, VMD

Dogs can put on pounds for a variety of reasons, here's how to help your dog lose excess weight.

Excess fat is much more than a cosmetic issue for dogs–even just one pound of extra weight could mean a 10% increase in overall body weight for a dog that weighs 10 pounds. 

Studies show that when dogs are fed 25% less food than their littermates and kept at a lean body condition, they live on average two years longer than their overweight counterparts.

Not to mention that overweight and obese dogs are at increased risk for diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis – and not to mention ​​various types  of cancer. Read on if you’re looking at your dog and notice that they’re seeming a bit wider or feeling a bit heavier and don’t know why.

Why Is My Dog Gaining Weight?

Like humans, dogs can gain weight for a variety of reasons. It could be as simple as the fact that they’re eating too much food and not getting enough exercise. The kind of food they eat could also be contributing to weight gain. If your dog is less active, consider a food that is made from a lean protein source, like chicken

Still, other less controllable factors could also be at play. A common cause, albeit arguably overdiagnosed, is hypothyroidism (a low thyroid hormone level). It is important to have a full thyroid panel before a diagnosis of Hypothyroidism is made as the condition requires lifelong monitoring and medication. 

Further, certain medications can also lead to weight gain. And some breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, Beagles and Dachshunds are just more prone to put on the pounds. Spaying or neutering may also cause a dog to gain weight. 

More severe conditions, such as Chronic illness including fluid buildup due to heart disease or liver disease could be a part of the problem. Oftentimes, fluid buildup can occur slowly over time then reach a critical point where your dog will acutely have trouble breathing. 

Signs of Dog Obesity

Your vet will assess your dog and can determine whether they are considered obese, overweight, ideal or of thin body Body Condition. Body Condition Scoring (BCS) is a scale that ranges from 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese) with an ideal body score of 4-5.  


How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

Before starting any new diet or exercise plan for your dog, have it approved by your veterinarian. Here are some simple steps you can take to help your dog lose weight and improve their overall health: 

  • 1. Take your pup to the vet for a checkup and overall health assessment, to better understand what your goals should be. 
  • 2. Switch to an all-natural food formulated with lean protein like Sundays for Dogs Chicken Recipe. Sundays has helped other dogs improve their health, and it could help your pup too!
  • 3. Feed your dog based on it’s lean body weight and work with your vet to ensure your pup is still receiving all of their nutrient requirements.
  • 4. Make mealtime enriching and exercise more fun by hiding pieces of Sundays for Dogs around a controlled area so that your pup can actively search for their food. 
  • 5. Create more opportunities to be active with your dog. Create step goals for yourself and bring your pup along for the walk–or jog. 
  • 6. Don’t overdo it on the treats and avoid feeding your dog table scraps and sneaking them other bites of human food. 

Remember that you’re your dog’s best advocate. Even if something like losing a few pounds seems overwhelming at the start, it will be so worthwhile when you see them happy and thriving. 

Try Healthy, Easy Sundays