How To Help Dogs Gain Weight Safely

Finding that your dog is underweight can be a scary experience. 

A million questions might race through your mind about your dog’s overall health and what could happen to your dog if things don’t change. Owners with malnourished dogs need to know how to help dogs gain weight in a healthy way. 

Reasons Your Dog May Be Underweight 

You can begin to understand how to fatten up a dog by understanding why your hound won’t eat. There are several possible reasons your dog might not be getting the nutrition they need.

Dogs who have recently undergone surgery or vaccination may have different appetites after the procedure. Understand that your dog may just need some time to get back into the swing of things after some recovery.

If you find that your dog isn’t eating enough, there is a chance they may be sick. 

Pay attention to any abnormalities with your dog’s eating habits and if other symptoms for sickness accompany these changes. If you suspect your dog is sick, talk to your vet.

Some dogs are simply pickier than others. It could be the type of food you’re feeding your dog that affects their willingness to dig in. Try tempting your hound with other food options. 

Set a Specific Goal for Your Dog’s Weight 

Experts consider adult dogs to be in a moderate condition when they can feel the dog’s ribs easily and also see the waist when looking down its back. There should be a noticeable abdominal tuck when you look down its side. 

Setting an ideal weight for your canine is the best place to start considering how to help dogs gain weight. 

It’s potentially dangerous to create a plan that simply aims to help your dog put on more pounds. You could cause long-term health problems and shorten the life-span of your hound.

Dog lying down panting

Though you are working to help your dog gain weight, you also don’t want it to gain too much weight. Obese dogs are known to have a shortened life expectancy and are in danger of becoming susceptible to diseases such as arthritis. 

Being too heavy can also give a canine certain kinds of tumors, heart diseases, and even high blood pressure. It’s best to specify a proper weight for your pet and then create a plan to reach it. 

You can use a tool like the PetMD Healthy Weight Calculator to determine the optimum weight for your particular breed of dog.

Once you have the weight to aim for, you can begin to create new routines for your dog to increase their weight. Also, take note of your dog’s current weight, so you can track progress. 

Consult Your Veterinarian 

Before you start formulating a new plan for your dog, book an appointment with your veterinarian and ask them for their recommendations. 

A vet can give owners expert advice about how to help dogs gain weight. Working alongside your veterinarian will give you confidence going forward, as you will need to assess the condition of your dog. 

How To Help Your Dog Gain Weight

There are several ways you can help an underweight dog to put on some weight. Diet and exercise are two of the most influential factors in the health of your best mate.

To help your dog gain weight, you can change the diet and exercise routines you currently have. It’s best to keep in mind the goal that you set to be the ideal range for your pup as you begin these changes so you can monitor progress and adjust if you need to. 

Recognize that by changing your dog’s habits, you are causing a change in their daily life. These changes can be overwhelming and have a negative effect if they are all introduced at once.

Make small, incremental changes over time so your dog can get used to them before having to adjust. Your hound will appreciate you taking your time and will be less likely to become confused due to different schedules. 

Be patient and track results. Steady progress towards your specific weight goal is the best way to help your dog become healthier, rather than trying to have it reach that goal in a matter of days or weeks. 

dog with bowl of food

Dog Food 

Healthy weight comes from healthy eating. If your pup is underweight, it may be time to switch the kind of food you’re feeding it. For the best results, you can research the best type of food for your dog’s breed. If you’re feeding just kibble, try some canned food to make it more appealing for them.

A great practice to help dogs gain weight is to give them food that has a higher calorie value than the standard recommendation.. 

Healthy dog food has 10% of the daily calories from protein and a minimum of 5.5% from fats. A healthy adult canine diet contains up to 50% carbohydrates and 2.5% and 4.5% fiber. 

You also want food that contains 30% protein for healthy weight gain. The ingredients of this food should be unprocessed real meats. If there are natural meats in the food, you will see them indicated as the first ingredients in the food’s ingredient list. 

Select food that contains only whole grains. Whole grains ingredients help to avoid weight loss issues caused by food allergies or intolerance. 

The best food for weight gain also contains pre and probiotics. These will help your dog digest and process the nutrients in the food.

Finally, you want food that has vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids, to combat nutritional deficiencies. 

Dog on beach

Feeding Routine 

You may think simply giving your hound more food per meal will solve their underweight issue. However, a sudden increase in meal size may only cause more problems.

Usually, dog owners feed their hound twice a day. This regularity allows the dog to digest food properly. 

If you select the right food for your dog with a higher calorie value, two meals a day should be sufficient to help them get the proper nutrition for weight gain. 

Alternatively, you can choose to begin giving your animal smaller but more frequent meals throughout the day to encourage more eating. 

Remember that you should make any change to your dog’s regular schedule slowly and incrementally. If you introduce more food throughout the day, start by giving your dog one more meal per day.

Exercise and Weight Gain 

Like humans, increasing muscle mass is a healthy way for canines to get fitter and stronger. All dogs have different exercise needs, depending on how active they are.

Exercise is another area where it can help you to research your breed and get help from your vet. You can find out how much exercise your dog needs in a day for a healthy lifestyle and begin to adjust its current routine. 

As your pet eats a higher calorie diet, they will be able to tolerate a higher level of activity. As before, gradual changes to any routine are recommended. The most important thing is, don’t overly worry if your hound takes time to put weight on. If your vet is happy with their health and well-being, just be patient and keep trying new things.

Exercise Routine 

Exercising consistently, a little each day, is preferable to only going out for weekend walks. It’s important to keep your dog’s metabolism working well. This is achieved by regular feeding and exercise habits.

Formulating a good exercise program for your dog comes from first knowing his or her exercise preferences. You likely know how long your hound can play fetch, or go hiking before they get tired. A healthy dog is very hard to wear out, and I’m usually the one who gives in!

Activities like fetch, walking, or running are great go-to forms of exercise many dogs love to do. You can create programs using these activities that extend in duration over time. This will help your dog build endurance and stamina. 

dog with ball

Other activities that you can try if you have the equipment are using a treadmill and playing tug with a toy. There are many ways to exercise your hound.

You can supplement play and exercise by getting your dog some new toys to use. The right toy will get your hound excited to play, and it will keep them busy when you’re not around.

Get toys that stimulate your dog to interact. Toys are great for getting your dog to play with you and build your relationship. 

Make sure that you also enjoy this time of exercise. These daily workouts can be a great way for you to stay in shape too. Try activities that your dog likes and activities that you want to play with your dog. This way, the routine is fun for both of you!

Balance Food and Exercise 

If you want your dog to gain weight, their food intake and exercise routine have to work together to help your pet reach the ideal weight goal.

As with us humans, too much food and too little exercise cause dogs to gain weight in an unhealthy way. Conversely, too much exercise and too little food will fatigue your hound.

Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s new diet and exercise plan. Ensure that what you plan to implement is both practical and healthy. Their opinion can help you adjust your strategy for better results. 

Final Thoughts 

You can certainly help your dog get to their ideal weight and top health. All it may take is a little more time and attention with their eating and exercise habits. With the right plans in place, your hound will have a much better chance of reaching the right weight. Work with your vet and be consistent, you hound will love you for it.

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