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Dog Owner You Know

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Why Is My Dog Not Gaining Weight?

As a loving dog owner, you take note of every change in your dog’s behavior and appearance, including their weight.

Have you noticed that despite regular feeding and a balanced diet, your dog isn’t gaining weight?

The question “Why is my dog not gaining weight?” can cause much concern.

There can be various reasons behind this, ranging from health issues to diet and exercise habits.

In this article, we’ll delve into the possible causes and solutions for your dog’s inability to gain weight.

Let’s equip ourselves with the knowledge to ensure the health and happiness of our furry friends!

Reasons For Your Dog’s Lack Of Weight Gain


One of the most common culprits behind a dog’s inability to gain weight are parasites.

Worms, particularly roundworms and hookworms, can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system, preventing them from absorbing the nutrients they need.

Regular deworming, particularly in puppies, is essential to prevent parasitic infestations and ensure healthy weight gain.

Digestive Disorders

Certain digestive disorders, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), pancreatitis, or malabsorption syndromes, can interfere with your dog’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients, leading to weight loss or difficulty gaining weight.

A thorough veterinary examination can diagnose these conditions and guide the appropriate treatment plan.

Metabolic Diseases

Metabolic diseases, including diabetes and hyperthyroidism, can cause an increased metabolic rate, leading to weight loss despite a healthy appetite.

If you notice that your dog is eating well but not gaining weight, metabolic disorders could be the cause and warrant a consultation with your vet.

Dental Issues

Oral pain due to dental issues can make eating a painful endeavor for your dog, leading to decreased food intake and consequent weight loss.

Regular dental check-ups can help identify and address oral health issues, ensuring your dog’s comfort while eating.

Poor Quality Diet

Feeding your dog a diet lacking in essential nutrients can result in insufficient weight gain.

Commercial dog foods should meet the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Opting for high-quality, nutrient-rich foods can help your dog gain weight and maintain overall health.

Not Eating Enough

It might seem obvious, but sometimes the problem is simply that your dog isn’t eating enough.

This can happen when the portion sizes are too small, or the feeding frequency is insufficient for your dog’s age, breed, or activity level.

Consulting a vet or a pet nutritionist can help determine an appropriate feeding plan for your dog.

Food Intolerance Or Allergies

Just like humans, dogs can have food intolerances or allergies that may affect their ability to digest certain foods, leading to poor weight gain.

Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, and skin problems.

A specialized diet or elimination diet can help identify any problematic foods.

Stress Or Anxiety

Believe it or not, psychological factors like stress and anxiety can also impact a dog’s weight.

Changes in the environment, such as moving houses or the addition of a new family member, can cause stress in dogs, affecting their appetite and ability to gain weight.

Behavioral Issues

Finally, behavioral issues, such as picky eating or competition for food in multi-dog households, can result in inadequate calorie intake and weight gain.

Behavioral modification strategies or the help of a certified animal behaviorist can address these issues.

Signs And Symptoms To Look Out For

Visible Signs Of Underweight

The most visible signs include seeing or easily feeling their ribs, spine, and other bones through their fur.

Their overall body shape may appear thin, and they may not have much muscle on them.

Besides their thin shape, their fur might also look dull, less shiny, and may even be patchy in areas.

Changes In Appetite Or Eating Behavior

Noticing a decrease in your dog’s appetite or changes in their eating behavior can be an indication of a problem.

Whether it’s leaving food untouched or showing less enthusiasm during meal times, these changes warrant further investigation.

Associated Symptoms Such As Vomiting Or Diarrhea

If your dog’s lack of weight gain is accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention.

These symptoms could indicate underlying health conditions that need to be addressed.

Changes In Energy Levels And Behavior

If your dog seems more tired than usual, uninterested in play, or exhibits other behavioral changes, it might be due to inadequate nutrition or an underlying health issue.

Remember, any drastic or sustained changes in your dog’s behavior deserve attention and, if necessary, a trip to the vet.

What To Do If Your Dog Isn’t Gaining Weight

Increasing Caloric Intake

Have you ever wondered why your dog seems to have endless energy, running, and playing all day?

That’s because dogs, especially puppies and young adults, need lots of calories to fuel their busy bodies.

If you notice your pooch isn’t gaining weight, it could be that they’re not getting enough calories.

Just like we humans might need a few more bowls of pasta if we were to run a marathon, active dogs also need a bit extra.

You can add an extra portion to their regular meals, or even include an additional mealtime during the day.

You might be surprised at how quickly they gobble it up!

Switching To A More Nutritious Diet

Now, we all know the saying “you are what you eat.”

This isn’t just true for us but for our dogs as well.

The quality of the food we feed our dogs can greatly affect their weight and overall health.

Some dog foods are packed full of things like corn and wheat, which might fill up your dog’s stomach, but don’t give them the vital nutrients they need.

On the other hand, foods rich in proteins and healthy fats, like chicken or fish and flaxseed or fish oil, can help your dog gain weight and keep their coat shiny too!

If you’re not sure what to look for, ask your vet.

They can recommend brands and types of food that would be best for your dog.

Frequent, Smaller Meals

Did you know that dogs, like humans, can get upset stomachs if they eat too much all at once?

Imagine how you’d feel if you ate a whole day’s worth of food in one sitting.

You’d probably have a stomach ache!

That’s why it might be a good idea to split your dog’s food into smaller meals throughout the day.

Not only can it help them digest their food better, but it can also keep their energy levels stable and might even help them gain some weight!

When To Consult A Veterinarian

You know your dog better than anyone else.

So, if you notice that they’re not gaining weight even after trying new feeding strategies, it’s time to consult with a vet.

They’re like doctors for our pets, who can perform check-ups, run tests and give expert advice.

Sometimes, a dog might not be gaining weight because of a health problem that we can’t see.

So, remember to trust your instincts and consult a vet when things don’t seem right.

The Role Of Medications And Supplements

De-Worming Treatments

Here’s something not all dog owners know: worms can be a common reason dogs don’t gain weight.

These tiny creatures can live in your dog’s intestines and eat the food your dog eats!

So, even if your dog is eating a lot, they might not be getting all the nutrients they need because the worms are getting them instead.

The good news is that a simple de-worming treatment from your vet can get rid of these uninvited guests.

Probiotics And Digestive Aids

We have billions of tiny organisms in our gut that help us digest food.

Guess what?

So do dogs!

Sometimes, a dog might not have enough of these helpful little organisms, which can affect their digestion and weight.

Certain foods and supplements called probiotics can increase the number of these organisms and help your dog’s digestion.

High-Calorie Supplements

Some dogs might need a little extra help gaining weight, and this is where high-calorie supplements come in.

These are specially made foods that are packed full of calories and nutrients in a small serving.

It’s like giving your dog a super-powered meal!

You can find these at pet stores or get a prescription from your vet.

Importance Of Ideal Body Weight In Dogs

An ideal body weight is not just important for us humans; it’s also crucial for our furry friends.

A healthy weight can prevent health problems, increase lifespan and improve the quality of life.

Just like humans, dogs that are too thin can have health problems, just like dogs that are overweight.

How To Keep Your Dog At A Healthy Weight

Regular Vet Check-Ups

You take your dog for walks, give them baths, and play fetch with them, but did you know that regular vet check-ups are also an essential part of taking care of your dog?

These check-ups allow the vet to monitor your dog’s weight, among other things, and catch any potential issues early.

A Balanced And Suitable Diet

It might be tempting to feed your dog leftovers from your meals, but dogs have different dietary needs from humans.

They need a balanced diet that’s specially made for them.

This includes the right balance of proteins, carbs, and fats, as well as vitamins and minerals.

Maintaining A Consistent Feeding Routine

Dogs thrive on routine, and that includes their meal times.

Feeding your dog at the same time every day can help their body regulate their hunger and fullness cues, which can help keep their weight stable.

Regular Exercise And Mental Stimulation

Just like us, dogs need regular exercise to keep their bodies and minds healthy.

Regular walks, playtime, and training sessions not only help your dog burn calories and build muscle but also provide mental stimulation, which is important for their overall well-being.

Taking care of a dog is a big responsibility, but it’s also a great joy.

There’s nothing quite like the love and companionship a dog can provide.

And part of loving them is making sure they’re at a healthy weight.

By feeding them a balanced diet, giving them regular exercise, and taking them for vet check-ups, you can ensure they stay happy and healthy for many years to come.

Before You Go…

Now you know why your dog is not gaining weight.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Dimitra Kokologianni, DVM
Dimitra holds a Masters’s degree in public health and a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. She is a versatile professional with over 7 years of experience. Her passion for animal welfare and preventive medicine makes her an excellent resource for our readers.

Become The Smartest Dog Owner You Know

Join other dog owners and get a free daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.

Become The Smartest Dog Owner You Know

Join other dog owners and get a free daily email with carefully compiled tips, facts, and memes.