how to get a severly underweight dog to gain weight

Discuss ways to improve the quality of your dog's life and longevity through proper nutrition; a place for all of your questions and answers about feeding your pooch!

Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times. Non-informative posts criticizing a particular brand or another poster’s choice of food are not allowed in this Forum. References to any brand of food as "junk," "garbage," or other harsh names will be removed.

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Barked: Mon Sep 27, '10 2:11am PST 
I am adopting an american bulldog mix who at the age of 4 months broke his leg. since than he had to be confined to his crate as to ensure his leg healed properly. Because of that he has not been able to gain weight. You can see all of his bones. His hip bones are very visible along with his ribs. Current owner feeds him a very high protein diet but it does not seem to be working. he is now almost a year old and i take new ownership of him in a couple days and would like to know the best way to get him to gain the weight quickly..... i have been wondering if a weight gain protein is safe and beneficial to give him and have googled with no luck. if someone could please help me that would be great.

Vets have done all blood work and there is nothing medically wrong with him... please help

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Mon Sep 27, '10 5:16am PST 
Trooper, here's a thread that may be of interest to you:

http: //www.dogster.com/forums/Raw_Food_Diet/thread/683283

It discusses various ways to help a dog gain weight. One in particular, as is outlined in Lily's post, is the use of Satin Balls. Here's her post on it, for quick reference:

Lily and Moira attended Weight Gain Camp when each was adopted.
Satin Balls were served as a afternoon meal, in addition to their normal 2 meals a day.

Satin Balls
10# hamburger meat
1 jar wheat germ
1 lg box of oatmeal (uncooked)
1 1/4 Cup vegetable oil
10 eggs
10 sm pkgs unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 Cup unflavored molasses
A pinch of salt
1 lg box Total cereal (2lb's)
(You may also add a pinch of garlic powder to add flavor)

Mix all ingredients together well, much like a meatloaf....put into separate freezer bags and freeze, thawing out as needed. It puts weight on in a very short time, not to mention the gloss in their coat. You can use it every day when they have a show to do and it does not produce diarrhea. It can be fed alone or with kibble.

I skipped the what germ - Lily had colitis and it's a little rough, plus wheat is an allergen. This recipe has salt - I would skip that, too. I probably used less oil and less molasses, but this gives you a base to work from.

Barked: Mon Sep 27, '10 5:33pm PST 
It can depend on the type of high protein meal being fed and what else is being fed with the protein.

Protein will put on weight but you also need fat in the dog's diet, and exercise to gain muscle mass. I feed a homecooked diet of beef or pork, rice and fresh vegetables. To boost protein levels I add beans (pinto, navy, kidney, etc...) lentils are also high in protein, same with cottage cheese, eggs, split peas. If the meat is lean you can add a teaspoon of olive oil for added fat.

Another thing you can do which I have done in the past with dogs who have trouble maintaining weight if you want to feed kibble is give the dog a good quality puppy food even though the dog is 1 year old. Puppy food is high in protein and fat for puppy's to grow. Also consider a large growth formula which may have more protein to help the larger and giant breeds reach their growth protential. This will help the dog gain weight too and will not harm him. I have fed geriatric dogs puppy food to maintain weight under a Vet's instructions.


Barked: Mon Sep 27, '10 11:14pm PST 
thank you for the advice. i am going to look for a high protein high fat content puppy food for him and to feed him some canned food as well... but am still open for new ideas.

Princess and the- Pea
Barked: Tue Sep 28, '10 7:09am PST 
If he is being fed to gut tolerance, which means he has loose stool if fed more, you can add in an extra meal a day to get more food into him.

I suspect you are wanting too much too fast. Puppies gain muscle mass the second and third year after the bones finish growing to full size. If you love him up by exercising him well and feed plenty of good food he will look like a different dog in six months but not one month.

Perhaps you could make a little journal of this process so you know things are moving along. Take weekly photos, measurements and chart his weight?

Whose bed?? Why- would YOU think- that?
Barked: Tue Sep 28, '10 7:47am PST 
Thank you, Mulder for saving me a lot of typing. Lily went from 39 pounds to 49. She has since filled out more to the high 50s. Moira Mae came at 13.2 pounds and her ideal weigt is 34 pounds. These are/were adult dogs, not puppies.

On days they didn't have Satin Balls for an afternoon snack, they had plain yogurt and/or raw eggs. I also used Nupro to strenghten their immune system. Moira, in particular, was not in good shape.

Puppy food is usually higher calorie than adult food. Canidae is high calorie - meaning you can get the calories in without so much bulk. Check the calorie count on your bag. I look for at least 450 calories a cup.

It takes time, but can be done. Moira is now in Dogster Fat Camp because she got up to 38 pounds when we couldn't go walking due to a surgery (mine, not hers.)

Barked: Tue Sep 28, '10 8:25am PST 
That doesn't make any sense.

A dog forced to be sedentary is bound to GAIN weight, not lose it.

They're not burning any calories so why on earth would he have gotten so skinny from just sitting there???

If he's to the point of near emaciation (and it sounds like he is) he needs to get to a vet to figure out what's wrong. If he can't keep weight on sitting still on one food switching him to another isn't going to help.

He needs a vet that's going to explore further than mere bloodwork and saying welp, guess everything's fine cause the bloodwork says it is. Something is obviously VERY wrong here.

Edited by author Tue Sep 28, '10 8:28am PST


Barked: Tue Sep 28, '10 1:06pm PST 
as i said before he has been to the vets and they have done everything they can to see if it is a medical condition. it is not a medical condition. the vet said that with these breeds they are usually skinnier until 1.5 years old. he does have muscle mass just no fat whatsoever.
and im not looking to fatten him up in 1 month. i know it takes time and effort and i have the patience for that. i just need good ideas on how to help him.

Barked: Tue Sep 28, '10 3:41pm PST 
I have seen dogs that are very thin until they are over two years old. So I think with finally being able to get out and move and a good diet, you will see the dog pick up in weight.

Barked: Tue Sep 28, '10 4:09pm PST 
thank you. that is my belief also... vet said with these breeds even if they are fed properly or overfed that if they do not get exercise they have a harder time gaining weight or keeping weight on. and also he is not neutured so will be getting that done once he has some weight that will help him too i believe
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