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What to Do If Your Puppy is Too Skinny

If you think your puppy is too skinny, the first thing you should do is take your pup to the vet. They’ll let you know if your puppy is too skinny or if they’re at a healthy weight. The best way to help a puppy gain weight is to control its calorie intake. They may not be getting enough milk, so bottle feeding may be required. 

Did you fall in love with the runt of the litter and are now starting to worry that your pup isn’t gaining as much weight as it should be? Are you wondering how you are supposed to know what their perfect weight is and if they’re not putting on the pounds fast enough? 

There are many reasons a puppy may be on the skinny side, and what makes it such a perplexing question for dog owners is it truly is a case-by-case basis.

Should You See a Vet if Your Puppy is Too Skinny?

Yes. It’s important for puppies to develop at a certain rate, if you believe your puppy is not properly developing, this needs to be discussed with the vet.

Why is Your Puppy Skinny?

Do you think that there may be an underlying reason your puppy is on the skinny side? It’s possible. Some dogs are born small for their breed, and other dogs struggle to gain weight for a number of reasons, discussed below.

Are They Eating Enough?

First things first, have you had a conversation with your vet about what your dog should eat, when, and how much? If not – this is a great starting point. 

Your vet should have experience with many other dogs of the same breed, which allows them to make an educated decision on what types of food your pup should be eating and how much it should consume per meal. 

If you don’t want to wait until the next appointment with your vet, researching which diet is best for your puppy’s breed is a straightforward process. 

We are lucky to have incredible resources on the internet called search engines. Use the search engines to research your particular breed and take what you find with a grain of salt until discussed with a medical professional. 

What’s Your Puppy’s Lifestyle Like?

Your dog’s diet may not have kept up with an increase in activity and playtime, resulting in weight loss or trouble putting on weight. You may need to add food to your dogs diet due to increased activity levels, but you should track these changes carefully to determine whether they help. 

Could There Be an Underlying Health Issue?

There could also be underlying issues such as stress or illness keeping your pup on the skinny side. This is not meant to scare you, but to reiterate how important it is to discuss options with your vet and keep an eye on all changes your puppy may display. 

When you take your puppy to the vet for a check up, your vet will let you know if they are under or overweight and then often look into why this may be. If the vet determines you’re doing everything right, they may decide to do blood work on your dog to search for underlying issues. 

Does Weight Vary By Breed and Age?

Yes, and yes. Every breed has a healthy weight range. Your English Bulldog and your Great Dane will not have similar weights, diets, or exercise routines, and they can still be equally healthy at drastically different weights. 

When researching your dog’s weight or diet, it’s essential to focus on the recommendations on a breed by breed basis. An active breed should carry weight much differently than a lethargic breed. It’s also important to consider your individual dog because there are added variables even within breeds. 

How To Help Your Puppy Gain Weight

After discussing the details with your vet, you should pick a goal weight and a set date to reach it. Once you accomplish this first step, you may ask yourself – what’s next? How will your pup gain weight? 

The first thing you’ll probably want to do is increase your calorie intake. This is the most straightforward option, and it’s pretty self-explanatory since we use the same tactics in humans. 

However, it needs to be monitored closely to ensure the added food is not putting a strain on your dog. One way to prevent any adverse effects of additional food is to separate the food into more frequent meals of smaller quantities. 

Rather than a typical two-meal day (breakfast, dinner), you can add lunch to the menu. Just be sure to keep it small. You don’t want the second meal to be the same size as the first and last meal of the day. 

This will allow your dog to eat more without the potential side effects of overeating during a single meal. This tactic works exceptionally well for any stubborn pups out there who are on the skinny side because they refuse to eat all of their food. 

What Type of Food Should I Feed a Skinny Puppy?

When it comes to your pup’s eating habits, quality is more important than quantity – especially in a scenario like this.

It’s critical to prioritize what type of food you are feeding your pup. He or she will respond best to high-quality, protein-packed foods. Vets also suggest that adding human food with dog food can assist in weight gain and promote overall health. 

Make sure you do your research before adding human food to your dogs diet. Some human foods are considered toxic for dogs.

Should You Restrict Exercise For a Skinny Puppy?

No. Even if you’re actively trying to get your dog to gain weight, exercise is critical to their overall health. If you are genuinely concerned that your pup may be burning off the extra calories you are feeding them, one trick is to save the largest meal for dinner time so that after eating, your pup is less likely to burn off the calories. 

Can Weight Affect Your Puppy’s Behavior?

In some scenarios, weight can affect your dog’s mood and behavior. If your dog is overweight, this could be reflected through irritability and fatigue from carrying the extra weight throughout their everyday activities. If your dog is skinny, this could be reflected through low endurance, strength, and overall energy. 

How Quickly Should My Puppy Gain Weight?

This will vary. Patience is the key here. Stress can have a direct impact on your pup’s weight gain, which means that the more positive and patient you can be with your dog, the quicker there will be a positive outcome in return. 

With that said, a good rule of thumb is to expect your puppy to gain about 5 ounces per week. However, the scale doesn’t always tell the full story. 

A dog’s weights can fluctuate by 2-3% based on their activity level, lifestyle changes, and unique stressors. 

It’s reasonable for a dog to put on some weight during the winter months since they don’t get as much exercise. This is one of the many reasons it’s important to identify a healthy weight range instead of a singular number and practice keeping your pup in that range throughout the year.

It’s Not Your Fault

There are an endless number of reasons your puppy may be skinny, and it’s improbable that you, as a dog owner, are to blame. 

What’s important is that you are taking the first steps in helping your pup get to a healthy weight. Follow these steps, talk to your dog’s vet, and your pup will be cozy, cuddly, and maybe even a little chunky before you know it!

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