The Importance of a Dog’s Weight
Dogs, also known as canines, can be traced back to the beginning of mankind. The word ‘canine’ is derived from the Latin word ‘canis’. Dogs have evolved from wolves and have become man’s best friend. Although dogs have changed very little over time, studies and researchers have proved that maintaining a dog’s health is more difficult now than in the centuries before. One of the most important health factors for a dog is its weight. Being overweight causes many threats to the life of a dog and there are many underlying reasons why a dog might be overweight.
When a dog is taken to a veterinarian, the first thing the doctor checks is its weight. Some common causes of weight gain are Cushing’s syndrome, diabetes, and hypoglycemia. Each of these diseases causes an increased appetite, which can lead to weight gain (Kay and Randolph 155). However, a dog could be overweight simply because of an abundant source of food. It is important to recognize weight gain in a dog because a rapid increase in weight can cause diseases like arthritis, cardiomyopathy, cranial cruciate ligament injuries, chronic valvular disease, and laryngeal paralysis (Sprung and Schwartz 123-130).
One cause of weight gain is Cushing’s syndrome. Cushing’s syndrome develops because of an “abnormality of the adrenal glands” (The American 699). It can be very complex and difficult to treat. Discovered by Dr. Harvey Cushing in 1912, this disease is characterized by adrenal glands which produce too much cortisone and cortisol resulting in too much of these hormones being released into the body. It is commonly caused by tumors on the adrenal or pituitary glands. 85% of all cases are the result of pituitary tumors. Cushing’s usually affects dogs that are older than 10 years of age with large dogs having more adrenal tumors and small dogs having more pituitary tumors. Yorkshire Terriers, Jack Russels, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Poodles, Beagles, and Daschunds are breeds more likely to be affected by this disease (Hines). The corticosteroids play an important role in the dog’s immune system and in regulating blood sugar levels and decreasing inflammation (Hines). Some symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome are thinning of the fur, darkened skin, and a heightened need for food and water (The American 699). High corticosteroid levels can also slow bone formation and impair wound healing (Hines). Cushing’s syndrome is known to cause weight gain because it can result in abdominal distension, or the “enlargement, swelling, or puffing of an abdomen” (Kay and Randolph 154). Abdominal distensions, caused by Cushing’s syndrome, result in weight gain (Kay and Randolph 154). Surgical treatment or removal of the tumors is difficult due to the difficulty and location of the pituitary in dogs. Some medications are used to help slow progression and decrease symptoms but most therapy is aimed at making the dog comfortable (Hines).
Diabetes is also a cause of weight gain. This...