If your dog needs to gain a few pounds, increasing his fat intake or simply feeding him larger portions isn't always the healthiest way to do so. You don't just want your pet to pack on extra fat, because that would be very unhealthy. If you want to know how to make a dog gain weight the healthy way, this article will tell you what you need to know.
Simply gaining extra fat isn't healthy, so increasing your pup's carbohydrate and protein intake is also very important. It's crucial that you work with a veterinarian when learning how to make a dog gain weight. You need to ensure that the weight gain is healthy and that your pooch isn't losing weight due to a health problem.
In most cases, underweight dogs are much less common than overweight or obese dogs. However, dogs who are underweight according to WSAVA's body condition score (PDF) or NextGenDog's body condition chart (JPG) are considered unhealthy and in need of help to gain weight. Watch the video above or see my best tips on how to make a dog gain weight healthfully below.
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How to Make A Dog Gain Weight
The most obvious sign that your dog is underweight is his body size, shape and condition. It is not always easy to spot weight loss in dogs because it often happens gradually, with small changes over time, but using the below body condition score chart can help you decide if you need to learn how to make a dog gain weight:
As indicated in the above chart, check whether your dog has a healthy weight by touching him on his sides. If your dog is of healthy weight, you will feel his ribs along with a thin layer of fat over them. Underweight dogs don’t have any padding between their ribs and skin.
Another test is to stand above your dog and look down. If you see a noticeable hourglass figure instead of a definite waist indentation, your dog is probably underweight. Take your dog to the vet to be sure and for a dietary adjustment.
How to Make a Dog Gain Weight
Once you've seen your veterinarian and have ruled out any health problems, you can begin working on how to make a dog gain weight. Your vet will likely recommend dietary changes, like adding more calories to your pet's diet.
You can just increase his meal portions to add calories or include extra treats or meal toppers. In a previous article, I shared a recipe for Satin Balls, which are commonly recommended by veterinarians as a great addition to a dog's diet for weight gain.
You may also need to try a different brand or type of dog food. Some lower quality kibbles do not provide adequate nutrients, and some foods are formulated for specific types of dogs. If you're feeding the wrong food, your veterinarian can help you find a food that will meet his needs.
Your dog may need to gain weight because he hasn't been eating. This could be because he's recovering from surgery or an injury. Maybe he's getting over an illness. No matter the cause, if your dog has lost his appetite, there are a few things you can do to help.
As long as your dog has been cleared of any health concerns by your vet, you can try to make his food more appealing. Try mixing dry kibble with canned dog food or adding a little water to make the kibble more appealing. You could also add a low-sodium broth to the food to entice your pup to eat.
Monitor your dog's weight closely when learning how to make a dog gain weight. It's important to keep track of his weight on a daily basis and record the results in a journal. This will help you to track whether or not your efforts are working. It will also be easier to report your dog's progress to your vet if it's all written down in a journal.
One more thing to mention is proper exercise. Many owners cut back on exercise when trying to get their pup to gain weight. While exercise does burn calories, it also helps add muscle and increase your dog's appetite. For those reasons, keeping up with adequate exercise is an important part of a weight gain regiment.