When dogs are on the thin side, it is often important to provide them with additional weight. However, certain dog breeds may appear to be inherently bigger or smaller than others, and it’s always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before switching up your dog’s food. Many pet parents are naturally concerned about their dog’s weight, whether it’s less or more, and this is understandable.
While obesity in dogs is unquestionably a serious problem in the United States, perhaps you have a new rescue pup who didn’t come from a decent home or care and who appears to need a bit of additional meat on his bones.
Also, perhaps your senior dog is slowing down and losing weight as a result of his age. Whatever the cause, it’s critical to strive to achieve and maintain the best possible weight for our dogs.
We’ll go through how to determine whether or not your dog is underweight in this post, and we’ll go over some of the causes why dogs may lose weight, particularly their muscular mass. Finally, we’ll go through ways to persuade a dog to acquire weight, as well as some techniques to encourage a dog to gain weight healthily.
Table of Contents
How to Determine Whether or Not Your Dog Is Underweight?
There are a few basic techniques to determine whether or not your dog is excessively thin. The only thing you have to do is examine your furry pet closely and check their bones.
First, take a step above your dog and stare down at them, paying particular attention to their waistline. A dog’s physique narrowing considerably around the waist might be an indication of malnourishment in some cases.
Aside from that, if you can see the contour of your dog’s ribs, you may very likely have a dog that is far too thin for its breed.
Aside from looking at your dog’s physique, touching their ribs is an excellent technique to determine whether or not they have the appropriate levels of body fat.
When you examine a dog of normal weight, you must feel each rib, but this might indicate a health concern if their ribs protrude.
When attempting to ascertain a healthy body weight for your dog, consulting with your vet is always a smart place to start.
Dog breeds may naturally have a thinner or stockier appearance, and your veterinarian may assist you in setting reasonable weight goals for your dog.
Remember that for many breeds, “normal” may not be the best thing for them. It’s fairly unusual to see pugs, Labradors, and Chihuahuas that resemble little hippos – but that doesn’t always imply that they’re in good condition.
This is a good lesson in both directions: a healthy hound will be rather bony. When looking at a healthy greyhound, it’s not uncommon to detect multiple ribs and even hip bones; nevertheless, a similar amount of boniness in most other breeds would be cause for concern.
A constriction around your dog’s waist should be visible in most cases, but not always. In addition, the ribcage contours of the majority of dog breeds should be discernible.
Causes of a Dog’s Weight Loss:
Dog owners may wish to learn how to fatten up their dogs for various reasons, and their canine companion may have difficulty gaining weight. Some of these causes include:
1. Food Snobs and Fussy Eaters:
Some dogs are just fussy eaters, making it harder to keep dogs at a healthy weight for an extended time.
If you suspect that this is the source of their weight problems, you may try incorporating a little wet food into the mix or utilizing dog food toppers to persuade them to consume more calories than they would otherwise.
2. Pain or Illness:
It is also possible for dogs to eat less because their owners prefer when they suffer from illness, discomfort, or gastrointestinal troubles.
If your dog misses a meal or two due to a stomach virus, you may not need to be alarmed. However, if your dog consistently brings food to you, it may be time to take him to the veterinarian.
Make an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian as soon as possible if he is generally a voracious eater and has suddenly lost interest in food.
When dogs are worried or sad, they are more likely to turn down food offers. People can behave in the same manner! A traumatic occurrence or a period when your dog is alone may be the cause of her refusing to eat for a while.
4. It May Be Related to Age:
Dogs over the age of 10 tend to lose more weight than they ought to. It is sometimes difficult for them to chew their food due to tooth decay or oral discomfort, making consuming enough calories to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Wet, fresh, or food particularly developed for senior dogs may help ease the pain to consume and gain weight while still ensuring that they get the nourishment they require to be healthy and happy.
Parasitic worms, ringworm, pinworm, and whipworms are some of the most typical intestinal worms. When your dog’s stomach is full of food, these worms consume it before it has a chance to digest it. We know that worms equate to weight loss, and it all boils down to basic mathematics.
Your dog can lose weight if they expend more calories than they take from meals. They will gain weight if they consume more calories than they expend in a day.
When worms are introduced into the mix, everything changes. Dogs lose weight because worms take their calories, and because your dog consumes more calories than they can eat, they lose significant amounts of weight.
If you believe that your dog may be infected with worms, contact your veterinarian right once. First and foremost, your dog’s veterinarian will establish what sort of worm your dog has.
After that, they will prescribe the appropriate type of dewormer. A trip to the veterinarian is necessary since not all deworming medications are effective against all types of worms.
6. Recent Rescues:
Having been rescued from a shelter or picked up off the street, dogs are not unusual underweight. It’s important to collect as much information about the dog from the rescue and the dog’s former veterinarian as soon as possible so that you can begin working on the problem right away.
The stress caused by the change in surroundings might cause any weight loss following the child’s adoption.
7. Conditions of the Metabolic and Endocrine Systems:
These disorders typically cause the body’s energy reserves to be depleted, and your veterinarian can detect them through laboratory testing. Kidney and liver disease are two examples of metabolic disorders. Diabetes and Cushing’s disease are two examples of endocrine disorders.
When it comes to a pet losing weight, bloodwork is generally the best first step as a screening tool since we can frequently rule out a few causes early on.
This is something I experience on a rare occasion, but it does occur. Some dog owners, all too aware of obese pets in the United States, are quite stringent with their pets’ diet, sometimes to an excessive degree.
It may also happen that you end up with an extremely picky eater who only eats once a day or even skips mealtime, and before you know it, you’re having difficulty maintaining your weight.
Every pet food contains a varying quantity of calories, and the differences can sometimes be as much as 100 kcal per cup or can of food. It is never reasonable to presume that 12 cups of one meal is the same as 12 cups of another food without first comparing.
The need to keep this in mind is especially vital when transitioning to a new diet or switching between different food options regularly.
An essential thing to prevent underfeeding is to understand exactly how many calories your dog needs each day, considering his age and level of activity. We’ll go into the specifics of how to accomplish this in the next section.
9. A disease of the Gastrointestinal Tract:
We’re speaking about a group of digestive system diseases that either cause food to flow through the digestive tract poorly or cause food to be poorly absorbed. This encompasses diseases such as megaesophagus, inflammatory bowel, and nutrient enteropathies like lymphangiectasia, to name a few examples.
10. Pregnancy and lactation:
Although this will not apply to most normal puppy parents, it must be mentioned since some people are actively involved in breeding their dogs. It has also been reported that accidents can occur when an intact male or female dog can leave the house for a “meet and greet.”
The requirement for calories increases in the later stages of pregnancy and reaches its maximum during nursing. It takes an enormous amount of energy and bodily reserves to produce enough milk to nourish hungry babies, and the needs increase exponentially as the number of puppies increases.
Individuals unfamiliar with the calorie requirements connected with pregnancy and nursing may discover that their dam’s energy requirements are not being fulfilled, resulting in rapid weight loss and loss of muscle.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, the body’s energy requirements normally double. They increase greatly during late pregnancy. Depending on the number of puppies born, requirements may grow by 4-8 times once the puppies are born.
If you find yourself in a scenario where you have a pregnant pup or no prior experience with breeding, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Our advice on how to have a healthy pregnancy, what to expect, and, most importantly, how to fulfil your dog’s nutritional needs throughout these huge changes are not limited to reproductive professionals.
How to Properly Put Weight on a Dog?
Make use of the suggestions provided below. It’s important to remember that none of these are quick remedies. It is critical to make incremental improvements, especially in the case of very skinny canines or dogs that have been underweight for a long period.
The Methods we’ve chosen will assist you in developing a safe and long-term weight growth strategy for your canine companion.
1. Change in the Feeding Routine:
Dogs and humans digest and metabolize food in somewhat different ways, although the two creatures are remarkably similar in many ways.
The probability of gaining weight is increased in those who eat within several hours before bedtime, for example. When you eat soon before bed, your body is more likely to retain the nutrients in the form of fat. Using this principle, you may aid your dog in putting on some much-needed weight growth.
If your dog feeds twice daily, as most dogs do, consider feeding him a smaller piece of food in the morning and a larger bit of food in the evening just before his bedtime. Rather than burning fat when sleeping, this will encourage his body to store fat instead of burning it.
Another strategy for increasing your dog’s weight is to feed him little meals regularly. By dividing your dog’s daily food intake into three or four meals, you ensure that he receives nutrients throughout the day, which will aid in his weight gain.
After eating, it’s crucial to remember that your dog shouldn’t be too active for a few hours. Try to exercise your dog at least 30 minutes after a meal to avoid putting him in danger.
2. Add Fat, Protein, and Carbs:
Sugar and carbs, contrary to common assumptions, are not detrimental to one’s overall health. Along with fat and protein, every living thing requires carbohydrates as one of the three primary nutritional sources of energy for proper functioning.
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is required by all cells in the body, with their highest efficiency. But carbohydrates are a short-term energy source since they are quickly depleted of their stored energy reserves.
Suppose you have a dog that is losing weight or having difficulty maintaining weight. In that case, you need a more consistent energy source because carbs are still necessary; proteins and fats are considerably superior for this reason than carbohydrates.
Dogs that participate in high-intensity endurance activities, such as sled dogs, require a high-calorie diet that is heavy in fat and protein. This provides a more sustained supply of energy while also aiding in the preservation of muscle mass.
Many elderly dogs and those dealing with one or more chronic medical problems that lead to lost weight require protein to help them maintain their muscle mass.
Some exclusions may apply depending on the nature of the ailment being treated. Particular forms of protein may be recommended in certain situations, such as renal illness or certain gastrointestinal conditions, which is why it’s so important to check with your veterinarian to determine your dog’s unique nutritional requirements.
However, in general, most dogs should be fed a diet that contains around 20% protein. Pets that are overweight or obese are likely to benefit from increased percentages of good quality protein in their diet.
Cooked eggs and freshly cooked meats such as chicken, pig, and beef, which have been drained of unwanted fat and oils, can be added to a balanced diet to provide some additional high-quality protein.
In addition, while the body does not require calories from fat to exist (calories from protein and carbohydrates suffice), calories from fat can be more advantageous than calories from carbs or protein in situations where the body requires a lot of energy.
This is especially true when the amount of food consumed is a consideration. A dog’s stomach can only hold so much food in a day; therefore, if we have a high energy requirement, our food must be dense in calories, and fat can assist us in meeting that demand more effectively.
Pet meals that are richer in calories and fat are more likely to be found in animals. However, if you are trying to supplement your diet with additional fats, be sure to utilize a healthy amount of each.
After all, there are healthy fats and harmful fats in the world. Omega-6 fatty acids are abundant in the diet, but they are also pro-inflammatory, which is unpleasant.
Fish oil contains the highest concentrations of DHA and EPA, two essential Omega-3 fatty acids, of any oil kinds available.
Including a fish oil supplement, such as Salmon Oil Plus Omegas, in your dog’s diet can be an excellent method to improve healthy fats in his diet while also providing additional advantages for his skin, fur, and bone health.
Keep in mind that feeding your pet any fatty or greasy human foods can cause serious digestive problems, including pancreatitis, and that high-fat meals may not be acceptable for many dogs and cats. As previously said, make sure to contact your veterinarian about any unique requirements your pet may have.
3. Feed Them Little Meals Regularly:
Plan your dog’s feeding schedule so that they consume three or four modest meals each day instead of one or two large ones.
Using modest servings to help your dog gain weight is an excellent strategy since it allows them to digest their meal better and absorb the nutrition during the day. Make an effort not to go more than 6 hours between meals to make this method work.
Cook a large, typical dinner and then split it into smaller portions to transition from larger to more manageable serving sizes. This will assist you in determining how much you should be feeding until you become accustomed to the new habit.
4. Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin:
Pumpkin and sweet potato are excellent options for assisting your dog in healthily gaining weight. Consider including pumpkin and sweet potato into your dog’s diet to help him gain weight while avoiding an excessive amount of protein in his diet.
Increasing the amount of fat and fiber in your dog’s diet can aid in his digestion as well as his weight growth. Your local grocery shop should carry canned sweet potatoes and canned pumpkins.
Make careful and watch your dog throughout the first few days after introducing these new foods to their diet to ensure that their bowel motions aren’t abnormal or inconsistent.
5. Lean meats:
It’s difficult to go wrong with protein sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, and lean cuts of cattle—cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, or roasting help keep the fat level low.
6. Peanut Butter Is a Delicious Treat:
Peanut butter is a favorite treat for dogs. Perhaps they are aware that it is a high-quality source of protein and healthful fats. Just make sure to steer clear of peanut butter that includes sweeteners such as xylitol, which is hazardous to dogs.
7. Increase the Amount of Activity of Your Dog:
Even while increasing your dog’s amount of activity may seem contradictory to dog owners who want their dogs to gain weight, increasing your pet’s amount of physical activity will help them gain muscle.
Make careful to consult your veterinarian before increasing your dog’s exercise level since conditions such as arthritis and certain metabolic diseases may necessitate particular treatment for your dog to gain weight without becoming ill or injured.
Increasing the length of regular walks is the most effective strategy to increase your dog’s exercise level, as does engage in low-impact sports like swimming or short games of catch.
8. Speak to Your Veterinarian about It:
Your dog’s vet is a valued contributor to your dog’s health care, so consult with them before making any changes to your dog’s diet or exercise routine.
Please inquire with your veterinarian about having a comprehensive physical performed on your dog since there are a variety of illnesses or health conditions that might be impacting his weight loss or hunger.
Before initiating a weight-gain program, you should rule out any of the following causes. Your veterinarian can also recommend an acceptable goal weight for your dog, allowing you to meet milestones while being safe and appreciative of every pound gained.
9. Appetite Stimulants:
Your dog may not be eating as much as she should be due to various factors, depending on the cause of the problem. As previously noted, this might be due to an underlying medical issue, increasing “pickiness,” or a generalized decrease in interest as people get older and engage in less exercise.
A few drugs that can help increase a pet’s appetite are available in veterinary practice, and we can use them to help pets eat more in the short term or the long term.
Steroids are not commonly used as appetite stimulants on their own. They are widely used to treat conditions that induce weight loss, such as inflammatory bowel disease or some malignancies. They can, on their own, produce increased appetite and weight gain.
However, steroids can have significant negative effects in both the short and long term, making them an unsuitable treatment option for any prolonged period. When steroids are taken, the aim is to reduce the frequency with which they are used over time while simultaneously trying to get various long drugs on board.
Capromorelin works by boosting the release of growth hormone, which results in a sensation of hunger. It has shown to be extremely successful in clinical testing, with one week of treatment resulting in a 60 percent increase in food consumption and a 6 percent rise in weight gain.
While not widespread, the most common adverse effects found in dogs are often stomach problems and vomiting.
12. Anti-nausea Medications:
It is not true that all cases of decreased appetite are driven by nausea, but when they are, it is important to include drugs that address this issue in medical treatment. Dolasetron, ondansetron, and maropitant are examples of drugs that fall within this category.
Medications that seek to lower acid production in the stomach, such as famotidine and omeprazole, are usually considered safe to use. However, their efficiency in severe instances is questionable at best.
Motion sickness drugs such as meclizine may be used in cases of nausea associated with vertigo-like disorders such as vestibular dysfunction, which can afflict elderly dogs rather suddenly and cause them to lose their balance.
Mirtazapine is classed as an antidepressant and a serotonin antagonist; however, it is only used as an appetite stimulant in the United States. Some of the same molecular processes that characterize it as an antidepressant likewise account for its ability to stimulate hunger and aid in emptying the stomach.
It is considerably more commonly used in cats. Still, when given to dogs regularly, it may be a highly effective and economic strategy to encourage them to eat more frequently. It is typically well taken, and adverse effects are rare; however, some dogs may have slight drowsiness due to the medication.
14. Weight Gain Snacks Are a Good Option:
As previously said, the quality and quantity of food consumed by your dog are critical in helping him gain much-needed weight. When it comes to supplementing your dog’s meals, weight-gain treats can be beneficial. They add novelty and variation to their diet to maintain a steady eating pattern.
A nutrient-dense food with additives that keep your dog feeling energized and decrease the adverse effects of weight loss is what these treats are supposed to be. That being said, keep an eye on the calorie count and the recommended age group to ensure that your pet isn’t eating too much or too little. In the next part, we’ll go over some of the most effective weight-gain foods and snacks.
15. Foods That Are Wet or Fresh Are Recommended:
Your dog may prefer these foods because wet or fresh meals have a greater aroma than dry kibble. Alternatively, it’s possible that your dog is simply a picky eater and that dry food does not appeal to him.
If that’s the case, you might want to consider exploring other options instead. If you want to offer your fresh dog food such as meat and vegetables, be sure that the food does not go bad before feeding it. At the absolute least, moist or fresh meals must be consumed after they have been opened.
If your dog has difficulties digesting cold food from the refrigerator, consider serving them something warm to warm their tummies, such as a bowl of sodium-free beef stew.
16. Maintain the Weight of Your Dog:
It is critical to ensure that your dog’s weight remains stable once they have achieved their appropriate weight.
Regular monitoring of your pet’s meals and treats will provide you with a more accurate image of the calorie count they ingest each day, as well as a better understanding of the number of scraps they receive from other family members’ dinner tables, which can be harmful.
You should vary the amount of food you give your dog based on how active he is at a given time of year, for example, during winter.
Ensure that you keep track of your dog’s weight every time he visits the veterinarian, and if you are concerned, take your measures using a household scale to confirm his weight.
To prevent overfeeding, if you increase your dog’s treat consumption while assisting them in gaining weight, be sure to reduce it after they have achieved their optimal size to prevent overfeeding.
What Should You Feed Your Dog to Help Them Acquire Weight?
In general, you should feed your adult dog twice a day, but you may want to break up their daily ration into smaller portions and feed them more frequently if possible.
This can aid in improving digestibility while also reducing strain on the digestive tract of the patient. Place their meals a bit higher than normal so that gravity can assist in getting the food into their stomachs more pleasantly.
By making their diet moister—either by using packaged food or mixing water into kibble—you might encourage your dog to eat more since it may be simpler to consume wet food than it would be to eat dry food. It is also critical for their general health that they have access to plenty of clean drinking water.
The appropriate combination of food and feeding procedures can assist your dog in gaining weight safely and healthily; see your vet about the best options for your pet to assist them on the path to recovery.
What Is the Best Way to Determine How Much My Dog Should Be Eating?
Answering this question is crucial for your career. If you are certain that you are fulfilling your dog’s calorie needs for his life phase and activity level, but he is still losing weight, this strongly suggests that nutrient-deficient is not the major reason for his weight loss.
It’s also crucial to understand your dog’s calorie requirements so that you can keep her at her optimal weight as much as possible. Being aware of this information can help you avoid being obese or being underweight.
So, how do we calculate our caloric intake, and how does this convert into what we should eat daily? When it comes to feeding your dog, it’s not a good idea to depend simply on the instructions on the bag or container because the range of quantities supplied is generic and not suited precisely to your dog’s individual needs.
My Dog Is Consuming Food, but He Is Not Gaining Weight – Why Is This?
If your dog appears to be regularly eating, but they’re still underweight and not gaining any weight, one of two things is likely to be happening: either you’re not feeding them enough, or there’s an underlying issue that’s preventing them from gaining any weight at all.
Increasing their lunchtime feedings may help them gain weight, but if they don’t seem to be gaining weight despite your efforts, you should take your pup to the veterinarian to ensure that nothing else is causing their weight problems.
Is It Possible for Eggs to Make My Dog Gain Weight?
That’s yet another affirmative! Eggs are high in healthy fat and protein, which will aid in the weight increase of your dog. These supplements also contain the amino acids that your dog requires but cannot create on its own.
The fatty acids included in eggs are also beneficial to the skin and hair of your dog. Eating eggs is a nutritious and readily digested food that can aid in your dog’s weight-gain efforts.
Is It True That Rice May Help a Dog Gain Weight?
Rice is high in carbohydrates and will undoubtedly aid in the weight increase of your dog if you include it in their regular meal regimen. You can make it even more nutritious by using other healthy proteins, and rice can even help calm your dog’s stomach if they are prone to stomach problems.
However, while rice does not contain enough nutritional value, protein, or fat to be the primary component of their meal, you may incorporate it into their diet to help them gain weight more quickly.
Other Suggestions for Bulking up Your Dog:
Consult your veterinarian before making any significant modifications to your dog’s dietary routine.
Create a notebook to keep track of their diets, snacks, exercise, and weight fluctuations.
Weigh your dog once a week to keep track of how much they’ve gained or lost and how well your new regimen is working.
Offering them smaller meals more often during the day may be a good option.
Even when you aim to make your dog fatter, it’s still necessary to provide him with the activity he needs.
When it comes to keeping your dog happy and in good shape, high-quality food and treats, as well as ample amounts of playtime, are among the most crucial factors to consider.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What should you provide an underweight dog?
Providing dogs with a fairly high diet in fat and protein is recommended for slightly to moderately underweight. These meals should have enough amounts of carbs, but they should not be primarily composed of carbohydrates.
What is causing my dog to appear so thin?
A variety of variables might contribute to a dog’s being underweight. A dog’s lack of appetite, a poor diet, a medical condition, being underweight because of shelter conditions, or the fact that your dog expends more calories than he takes in are all clear reasons for being a dog that is overweight or obese. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to assist your puppy in gaining weight.
What can I do to make my slender puppy a little bit bigger?
Protein and fat-rich diets are excellent choices for dogs that need to acquire weight. Increase the fat and protein content of your dog’s diet, which will assist your dog is gaining weight more gradually over time.
Dietary supplements with high levels of protein and fat can assist your dog in healthily gaining weight, and you should see a weight gain in as little as two weeks.
What can you do to help an underweight dog?
If you suspect that your dog is underweight, schedule a meeting with your vet so that this may be confirmed and treated accordingly.
Your veterinarian will do a thorough medical assessment on your companion while also asking you several questions regarding his nutritional needs. He will be interested in knowing how much food he consumes and what kind of foods he loves eating.
What may be causing a dog’s inability to acquire weight?
There are a variety of factors that might lead to this outcome. Some of the most often encountered are as follows: Diet that does not provide enough nutrients: If your dog’s food does not provide enough nutrition, they may lose weight and be unable to get it back. Dogs can become infected with several parasites, including worms, which can be harmful to their health.
What should you feed a senior dog who is losing weight?
If your dog is losing weight, you should talk with your veterinarian about whether or not a senior diet may be beneficial.
Feeding often and in small amounts, as well as warming meals, may assist in enhancing appetite. To increase the fat content of the diet: vegetable oil or margarine should be used, as long as this does not result in diarrhea.
The most effective technique to assist your dog in gaining weight is to provide them with more food. Distribute their normal food in greater amounts, then sprinkle on cookies or any delectable treat to round off the meal.
If you’re concerned about the cost of purchasing additional food for your pup, keep in mind that if they aren’t gaining weight, they may need to be put on a special diet, which can be quite expensive!
Never allow a lack of financial resources to prevent you from assisting your animal buddy in living a healthy life. Finally, make sure they drink lots of water throughout the day to ensure that their digestion is healthy and operating correctly.