6 Behavior Signs of Obesity in Dogs

6 behavior signs of obesity in dogs
6 behavior signs of obesity in dogs

The signs of obesity in dogs — or the start of weight gain — aren’t just physical. Excess weight on our dogs causes discomfort, overheating, and possible pain. Your dog’s behavior can tell it’s time to diagnose further.

What are the behavior signs of obesity in dogs?

  • Difficulty rising after lying down
  • Problems jumping up on furniture or into the car
  • An increase in appetite and begging
  • Excessive panting
  • Lethargy
  • Joint pain

Weight gain in dogs is often misunderstood. Overeating isn’t the only reason your dog might be gaining weight; other causes include:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Medical conditions

Early detection could save your dog from more severe conditions like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease.

Maintaining your dog’s weight is vital for preserving a happy and healthy life. By the end of this article, you’ll have the right tools to identify if your dog’s behavior is showing warning signs.

Physical symptoms of obesity in dogs

It would be misguided not to mention how essential physical inspections are to determine if your dog is gaining weight. When completing a physical exam of your dog for weight gain, first look at their waist from the side profile.

A dog’s waistline should taper on the bottom, standing prominently higher than the chest and rib cage. When visually examining from above, you should spot a noticeable taper.

A healthy dog should have easily discernible ribs without excess fat covering, allowing the ability to touch each rib without much pressure.

Spotting signs of weight gain in fluffy dogs is more challenging. Examine during a bath to better see the definition.

6 behavior signs of obesity in dogs. A basset hound sleeps resting on a sofa arm.

Behavior signs of weight gain in dogs

Weight gain happens gradually. And, since we spend every day with our dog, visually detecting weight gain is often lost on us.

A dog’s behavior is one of the best indicators to spot early signs of weight gain. Since many weight gain signs are similar to old age, a physical examination is best for senior dogs.

1. Difficulty rising after lying down.

When you call your dog for dinner, they used to leap up, rushing to their bowl. As dogs adjust to new weight gain, they often lose that spring in their step.

Like people, getting up from a prone position involves shifting the body for momentum. When gaining weight, it takes time to adjust to the new movement and slowness, or multiple attempts, to shift the body weight enough.

Observing difficulty rising is best done when surprised — a knock at the door or call for dinner — since your dogs reactions will be instinctual and unprepared.

2. Problems jumping up on furniture or into the car

Physical feats like jumping up on the sofa become more challenging as your dog begins to carry extra weight. 

Most dogs know their physical boundaries well. Look for hesitation and caution in your dog when calling them up.

It may take a couple of close calls for your dog to begin their cautious stance on jumping. It may also be a sign of joint pain, another side effect of weight.

3. An increase in appetite and begging

Has your dog started begging earlier and further away from dinner time? There’s a cause for the increase in appetite, and it’s a behavior you need to monitor. 

A sudden increase in appetite — without new exercise or activity — is a warning sign of more than weight gain. 

Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism are severe conditions that affect your dog’s hormones. Each can lead to a substantial and sudden increase in appetite. 

Aside from begging, a dog with a strong appetite can begin to rummage through trash and eat odd items, like papers. 

If you have a Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever, these breeds suffer from a gene mutation of POMC, causing insatiable appetites and a lack of control when eating. 

4. Excessive panting

Excessive panting in dogs is another red flag for more than weight gain. Causes for dogs’ excessive panting include:

  • Overheating
  • Stress
  • Pain
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Heart failure 
  • Medication
  • Eclampsia (Milk fever in nursing moms)

Dogs need to pant to cool their body down, but when your dog shows signs of constant and aggressive panting, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Lack of oxygen carried through the body can cause a bluish discoloring of the gums and tongue. The condition, known as cyanosis, is severe and must be addressed immediately.

5. Lethargy

Have you noticed your dog’s favorite toy sitting untouched for days or prolonged periods of sleeping throughout the day? The cause may be weight gain. 

Increase your dog’s playtime or begin daily walks. As their activity levels increase, so should energy levels. Your dog’s response to exercise — indifference or excitement — can be a telling sign. 

If your dog has been mostly sedentary, start slowly with a regular exercise plan and introduce fun indoor games

6. Joint pain

Added weight places undue stress on joints, causing pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, joint pain can be challenging to spot. 

After all, dogs have a genetic disposition not to show pain or weakness. 

Focus on your dog’s first steps when waking from a long sleep; it’s the best opportunity to spot limping or discomfort. 

Their unwillingness to jump or run upstairs are warning signs of joint pain. 

Final thoughts 

If only our dogs could speak. The job of a dog parent would be infinitely simpler. Instead, we must watch for warning signs of illness, weight gain, or pain.

Now that you know the behavior signs of obesity in dogs, its crucial to understand the risks. Obesity is the most preventable disease our dogs face today. The health risks of obesity in dogs include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney Disease
  • Cancer
  • Liver Disease

Depending on your dog’s breed, you may be fighting an uphill battle. Some breeds are prone to obesity. If you have one of the following purebreds or a mixed breed dog, there’s a 30% higher likelihood of obesity:

  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Beagle
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Rottweiler

By focusing on your dog’s behaviors — and diet and exercise — you have the best opportunity to help them stay safe and live a healthy, happy life.

Have you spotted warning signs of obesity in your dog? Share this story and let others know how to identify behaviors of weight gain in dogs.

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