You don’t see too many underweight dogs. You certainly see plenty of overweight dogs, but rarely underweight. If your dog has trouble putting on the pounds, you might have a hard time finding information about helping your dog gain weight.
There’s a reason for this. Only 1.1% of dogs would be considered underweight. Compare this to the 36.4% of dogs that would be regarded as overweight and the 19.6% that would be considered obese. Since the majority of dogs are either overweight or obese, the majority of research has gone to figuring out how to help your dog lose weight.
Your first instinct will most likely be to buy high-calorie dog food next time you make a trip to the store.
Top 5 High Calorie Dog Foods
- Blue life protection dry adult dog food
- Taste of the wild, canine formula
- Eukanuba High Calorie Performance Dog Food
- Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food
- Bully Max High Performance Super Premium Dog Food
But Before You Buy…
Buying higher calorie food seems like the obvious solution, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best solution. In some cases it will be, but in most cases, it’s probably not necessary, and you’ll end up paying more money on the higher calorie food than you needed.
There are two primary reasons buying high calorie food may not be necessary.
1) There’s An Underlying Issue
Pain in Teeth: Dental issues in dogs can often go unnoticed. If your dog isn’t eating it could be because their teeth hurt
Worms or Parasites: Worms are very common in dogs. When a dog has worms, they are essentially “sharing” their food with the worm.
Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: These emotions aren’t just for humans, dogs get stressed, anxious, and depressed as well. Has there been a significant change recently that might cause your dog to be confused?
Picky Eater: Most dogs will eat anything and everything. However, some dogs are very picky. Your dog might not be eating because they don’t like the taste of their food. If you notice they’ll constantly beg for your food but not eat theirs, your pup may be a picky eater.
Too Much Exercise: Yes, there is such a thing. It’s good for dogs to be active, but some dogs are hyperactive, causing them to burn too many calories.
Getting Old: Just like humans begin losing their appetite as they age, so do dogs. If your dog is entering their senior years, you might want to consider dog food made for seniors.
If you believe any of these match your dog, you probably don’t need to purchase high calorie food, you’ll need to address the underlying issue.
2) Your Dog Just Needs a Slight Calorie Increase
The second reason you may not need to purchase high calorie kibble is that your dog doesn’t actually need an excessive boost in daily calories.
Sometimes all it takes is a boost of 50-100 calories to put on the weight. You would be better off saving your money and sticking to regular dog food but adding an extra scoop on one of their meals per day.
Visit The Vet
Before you increase the calories your dog eats per day, you’ll want to take a quick trip to the vet. Many people skip this step, but it’s essential to get a baseline number so you know if the increase in calories is working.
After the vet examines your dog and provides you with the weight, they will let you know if there are any underlying issues like we talked about above or if increasing the calories will do the trick.
If the vet clears your dog of any underlying issues, then it’s time to up those calories. Below are your options.
Tips To Put on The Pounds
Gaining weight is a numbers game. If your dog consumes more calories than they burn, weight gain will occur. If they burn more calories than they consume, weight gain will occur.
If your dog is underweight, it’s your job as the dog owner to get the daily calorie count up.
Here are a few of our favorite methods.
Buy The High Calorie Dog Food
This is the no brainer solution. If you need to increase your dog’s calories, buy food that is higher in calories. The only problem with this method is it can be expensive. Your typical dog food is most likely much cheaper.
If you don’t mind spending the extra money, be sure to pick from one of the five we listed at the start of this article. Most companies get the extra calories from corn; that’s not what your dog needs. Your dog needs a mix of proteins, carbs, and fats. All 5 of those companies listed above add “clean” calories to the kibble.
Add a Tiny Bit More Food To Your Dogs Meals
This is our preferred method because your dog’s stomach as already adjusted to the food they are currently eating. If you give them just a tiny bit more each meal, that should be enough to put on the weight.
For example, if you usually give them 1/2 cup with each meal, increase it to 3/4 cup. That’s a small enough increase to add the calories and avoid stomach issues from overeating.
Use Treats Between Meals
We mentioned our preferred method above, but this will be your dog’s preferred method. What dog doesn’t love treats! Just make sure you don’t overdo it. You’ll want to start by increasing the daily calories by about 100, so try to find a dog treat that has around 50-100 calories and give it to them between meals.
This is a great option, but most people don’t have time for it. The best meal your dog can eat is homemade chicken breast and white rice. You don’t need to season it, plain chicken and white rice will work.
I’ve yet to meet a dog that doesn’t devour this meal. You’ll want to boil the chicken breast and then shred it once fully cooked. After that mix it in with rice and watch your dog go crazy over this one!
If two weeks go by and your dog still hasn’t gained weight, increase the amount of rice you feed your dog. Keep making this increase every two weeks until your pooch starts to put on weight.
The Choice is Yours
It’s always recommended to take your dog to the vet rather than trying to self diagnose your pooch. The vet will let you know if there are any underlying issues or if you just need to increase the calories.
If the answer is to increase the calories, you have plenty of options. You can either purchase high calorie dog food, increase the serving size of each meal, give them treats between each meal, or go homemade.
There is no “best solution.” At the end of the day as long as you aren’t feeding your dog junk food, a calorie is a calorie. Pick the method that works best for you and stick to it.
Just remember to weigh your dog once every two weeks. Gaining half a pound every two weeks is ideal. If they gain more than that, decrease the calories, if they don’t gain any weight, then increase the calories.
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