Is my Dog Underweight?

I have a three-year-old Whippet mix who is very skinny. He is about as tall as a Springer Spaniel and weighs 38 pounds. You can...


I have a three-year-old Whippet mix who is very
skinny. He is about as tall as a Springer Spaniel
and weighs 38 pounds. You can see his last few
ribs and feel his back bones and hip bones.

He is very muscular in his legs, though looking at him
from above he looks underweight. I
always get asked if he’s either a neglected
rescue I adopted or asked if I feed him enough.

I have done blood work and other tests on him to
make sure it isn’t something serious. All the
results told me that his organs and everything
were functioning normally and that he has a crazy
metabolism. I am trying to get him to put on and
keep on a bit of weight but so far I’ve been

Please give me a healthy and safe way to make my
skinny man gain weight!

Roanoke, VA

Based on what you have told me, I am not convinced that your dog needs to gain weight.

Different individuals have unique metabolic rates. Most people have personal experience with this phenomenon–it is why some people can eat a dozen Big Macs each week and stay thin, while others gain weight if they take a sideways glance at a salad. It sounds like your dog simply has a very high metabolism. Lucky for him!

You already have done the thing that I would most strongly recommend: you have tested your dog to make sure that a medical condition is not causing him to be thin. You point out that his legs are muscular, rather than emaciated. You don’t mention that he is lethargic or reluctant to walk and exercise. It sounds like he’s healthy.

Also, remember that different breeds of dogs naturally have different shapes. Whippets, German Shepherds, and Doberman Pinschers are naturally svelte. Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs are normally barrel-shaped.

If you are tired of people insinuating that you are neglecting your dog, you could try switching to a puppy or maternity diet. They both are high in calories. Unfortunately, they both cause upset stomach in some dogs.

However, if you are already offering your dog ample high-quality food, I really doubt that you need to do anything differently.

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