Dogs lose weight for a variety of reasons. Stress or unexpected change can cause a dog to stop eating well, illnesses such as parasites or intestinal issues can make it impossible for a dog to retain weight no matter how much she eats. Before working on weight gain, it is important to have her seen by a veterinarian for a full exam to rule out and treat any health issues that are causing the weight loss.
Choose a good quality kibble that is high in both protein and fat and has real meat as the top ingredient. Avoid foods with cheap fillers such as corn and animal byproducts. Puppy food is generally much higher in needed nutrients and is a good choice for emaciated adult dogs as well. Mix in a canned food to make the kibble more appealing to a dog with little appetite. Feed the designated amount of kibble according to the direction on the bag, according to the weight your dog should be, twice daily.
Many foods meant for humans are excellent for putting weight on dogs. Bake or boil sweet potatoes and mix in with her regular food. Cook brown rice in chicken broth and add chicken to replace a regular food meal once or twice a week. Smear peanut butter on treats for added protein. Add pieces of avocado to food occasionally for added fat.
There are many nutritional supplements for dog on the market that will add much needed nutrients and calories to her diet. Use the amounts directed by the packaging each day to every feeding to aid in weight gain. Continue using the supplements daily until she is at an acceptable weight.
Another option is to make satin balls, raw meatballs made specifically for dogs to aid in weight gain. To make a batch, mix together a pound of fatty hamburger, 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1 pack of gelatin and 4 1/2 teaspoons of molasses. Add in 3 egg yolks, 4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 3 cups of uncooked oatmeal. Form the mixture in to one inch balls and freeze them. Thaw several each day for treats.
How to Fatten Up A Dog: 5 Tips for Getting Weight On
A combination of these solutions ended up being what got Naomi to a healthy weight in just a few weeks!
For Naomi, the biggest problem was stress. Before I brought her home as a foster, she’d had quite the month.
Her owner left Florida, drove to Colorado, lived in his car with her for a few weeks, then left her at the shelter when it all got to be too much.
Naomi spent a few days at the shelter before being marked for behavioral euthanasia due to her aggression towards other dogs. I stepped in and took her. With that level of upheaval, is it any wonder she wasn’t interested in food?
She’ll Eat When She’s Less Stressed
Some dogs will refuse to eat when they’re stressed out. Don’t think of this as being disobedient or wilful. Rather, think of this as your dog’s way of letting you know that she’s really struggling to deal with life right now.
Some of my formerly picky dog-sitting clients eat dinner now that they know me and feel safe with me when their owner is gone. It just took a bit of getting used to me. Many dogs with separation anxiety won’t eat when they’re alone. Some dogs will skip meals after the Fourth of July from fear of fireworks. New shelter and rescue dogs often skip meals due to the big changes in their lives.
In the case of Naomi’s eating issues, stress was the root problem. Naomi had just experienced a massive upheaval prior to us taking her home from the animal rescue – she was confused and scared. As she settled into our home, her appetite returned. This took nearly two weeks!
While refusing food due to situational stress is fairly normal in dogs, if your dog frequently stops eating due to stress, take her to a vet. She might be anxious due to a medical issue or something awry in her environment.
There are lots of ways to help reduce stress for your dog. The first step should be to remove whatever is stressing your dog out, if possible. This might mean skipping town during the annual fireworks display, or putting on a white noise generator during thunderstorms. You can leave dogs with separation anxiety with a sitter.
In short, you have to remove the source of stress as the first step.
What Are the Possible Reasons for Losing Weight?
Let’s begin with the most common and not so serious causes of underweight.
Your canine may be too picky when it comes to food. He/she may just not like the food you give him/her. In this case you can diversify his/her food and add food toppers or more wet/fresh food. Maybe your paw friend does not enjoy eating too much granular food.
If you have an older dog, the loss of weight may be related to his/her age. Dental caries or cavities may occur in older dogs. Due to the pain they cause, your furry friend may find it difficult to eat hard food. In this case as in example above, you can implement more wet and/or fresh food in his/her daily menu. You may also look for food specially designed for older dogs. There are a few things you can do, if you want to take care of your canine’s dental hygiene:
• you can brush his/her teeth;
• you can consult with your veterinarian about a professional cleaning, if you think that you can not do it yourself;
• you can give your dog dental sticks or add to his/her regular meal food that takes care for the dental hygiene.
If you want to try cleaning your paw friend’s teeth yourself, you will need to train him/her to feel comfortable with you touching his/her mouth.
Same as humans, dogs can also experience stress and anxiety. The reasons for that may be different, i.e.: separation anxiety, fear of a certain/new place/object/person, a unhealed injury, a health condition, moving to a new home or any major change in the environment…etc. Dogs from rescue shelters are likely to need some time to adapt in their new home after adoption and may show signs of anxiety. In this case you should give your paw friend time to adapt and provide him/her with unconditional love.
Unfortunately, the loss of weight may be a symptom of a health disease. In most cases, there are also symptoms like vomiting, fever, lethargy…etc.. That is why a responsible owner should always supervise their pet and be able to recognize any abnormalities or fluctuations in their behavioral performance.