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How to help your dog gain weight?

Published on: October 28, 2022 • By: Antony Seddon · In Forum: Dogs
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Antony Seddon
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October 28, 2022 at 05:40pm
Hi everyone. I'm writing an article on how to help your dog gain weight, but when doing my research online I can't seem to find the opinions of qualified professionals or any relevant scientific literature to cite.   Would anyone be interested in answering a few questions so I can cite you as a professional, or maybe point me in the direction of trustworthy information?   Questions are;   1. Reasons why your dog could be underweight?   2. When should you see a vet?   3. How to track calories and plan a calorie surplus?   4. What are some safe, high calorie foods for dogs?   5. Can smaller meals given frequently help a dog gain weight like it can in humans?   6. Would less exercise and more rest help a dog gain weight healthily?   7. Is a good idea to increase treats?   Thanks.   Any help I could get would be greatly appreciated!
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
October 28, 2022 at 07:14pm
Hello! It is relatively unusual to be asked as a GP vet how to encourage a dog to gain weight.  When I am, I tend to find one of two things.  Ideally, I will find that the dog is not actually underweight, but a normal, slim, young dog.  This is more common  than you think, because over half of all dogs you see out and about are overweight, so it's easy to look at your own dog and think, 'they must be too thin.'  Many vet surgeries will be happy to let you weigh a dog, free of charge, in the waiting room, and if you have a vet nurse appointment then they may help you to assess their condition score and decide from there whether your dog is underweight, overweight or just right.       More to follow.
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
October 28, 2022 at 07:19pm
The other thing I regularly see is that dogs have some form of underlying disease, for example kidney disease or diabetes or hyperthyroidism, which stop them from putting weight on.  In these cases, it is important to get to the bottom of what is causing the symptom relatively early, because while weight loss seems quite innocuous, such diseases could progress to something more worrying if untreated.  Very rarely, we meet dogs that are underweight for nutritional reasons - i.e. they have been hungry, but this is surprisingly rare.  If for some reason this comes up, there are protein-rich / calorie-dense foods available and your vet will be able to assist you in coming up with an appropriate dietary regime.  I hope that something here is of help.
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
October 28, 2022 at 07:30pm
So, your questions...... 1) I think I've covered.   2) As soon as you suspect that your dog is underweight, see a vet.  I would much rather see a dog in the early stages of diabetes or kidney disease, for example, than when they turn ill with it.  Vets are very good at scoring dogs for appropriate weight and will soon tell you if you don't need to be concerned.  Some clinics can even slip you in for an early weight check with a vet nurse, but if that's the case then make sure you tell them about anything that has changed, as well as how your pet is now (there is a big difference between a 21kg collie that is healthy, and a 21kg collie that weighed 30kg only a fortnight ago).   3)  Vet nurses are brilliant at this, but it's important to look into 1 and 2 before changing a dogs' diet, because as I explained before, manipulating a dog's diet to put weight on them is rarely required.   4-7) see previous answers - I can't see any situation where I would advise stopping an animal's exercise in order to put weight onto it.  However, more information might change the advice.      I hope that something here is useful.
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
October 28, 2022 at 07:32pm
Can I ask how this article has come about?
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
October 28, 2022 at 07:46pm
VetHelpDirect would like to know if you are reusing their content in articles.  Thank you.
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