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How To Put Weight On An Underweight Dog

 by jaime on 27 Aug 2014 |
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Is your dog weighing much less that it's supposed to? It's important for dogs to maintain a healthy weight and in fact, an underweight dog can be at risk as much as an overweight dog.

First things first, whether your dog is a new addition or been a life-long companion, you must take them to the vet so the cause of this weight loss can be investigated prior to any new weight-gaining diets beginning.

Some potential reasons for weight loss include:
  • Parasites
  • Underfeeding (dog is burning more calories that being fed)
  • A food intolerance
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Problem with teeth or gums
  • Intestinal worms
  • Digestive disorders
  • Kidney failure

If your dog appears weak and lethargic and you see all of your dog's bones sticking out, even the head and facial bones, take them to the vet immediately so medical treatment can commence.

Once your pooch has been thoroughly investigated by your vet and any illnesses have been treated, you can begin the task of adding more weight to your dog's frame. Bear in mind, it can take around six weeks for a sufficient weight gain to be achieved.

Either your vet can inform you or you can figure out for yourself how many calories your dog will require each day. Depending on your dog's size, the amount of calories can range from 450 calories right up to 2400 calories a day!

There are various methods you can adopt, purely dependent on your preferences and your dog's needs, but never, NEVER feed your dog one large meal and no meals one hour prior and post exercise to prevent bloat and other devastating gastric complications arising. It's recommended you feed your dog around four small meals a day, approximately six hours apart.

Ways to increase your dog's weight:
  • Even if they're no longer a youngster, feed your dog high-quality puppy food.
  • Add healthy human foods to your dog's food to promote weight gain. Try a few spoonfuls of pasta or rice to add a bit of bulk.
  • Low-sodium chicken broth or sauces and gravy especially made for dogs can make human foods more delicious. You should never use human sauces and gravy for your dog's meal as they are very bad for them.
  • Make sure the food you give is of a high quality. If it's dry food you're using, you can add hot water, allow it to cool and your dog will love its mushy consistency!
  • Add cottage cheese, pumpkin, sweet potato, green beans and apples (no core or pips) to your pooch's meal to promote weight gain.
  • A classic way to get your dog to put on weight is to make them "satin balls." Made with cheap hamburger meat, it helps dogs to put on weight quickly because it is high in fat. The other ingredients also have nutritional benefits so while they are high in fat, your dog is not missing out on other key nutrients.
  • If your dog is up to it, they should be getting plenty of exercise. If you are unable to take them out for a walk, then make sure you fit in plenty of play time around the house or garden.
Additional tips:
  • Whenever your dog eats, make sure you praise them. It will create positive associations (especially useful for fussy eaters) and encourage further eating.
  • Never leave out unlimited amounts of food, no matter how underweight your dog is. The right amount of food to stick with is the amount of calories your dog should be ingesting based on their ideal healthy weight.
  • Weigh your dog twice a day. Note the weight, the amount you fed your dog and how much of it they ate. This helps you to monitor and gauge whether your new weight-gaining feeding plan is working.
  • Make sure your dog is getting plenty of fluids.
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