Many people worry about their dog becoming overweight, but what about a canine that is underweight? There are a variety of factors that can contribute to a dog’s lack of size. Some dogs may be burning more calories than they take in, some may be eating an incomplete food and others may have an untreated illness. Often times, newly adopted dogs have a reluctance toward food due to past trauma or struggling to adapt to their new surroundings. Regardless of the specific reason, here are a few things you can try to help your furry companion reach a safe and healthy weight at any age.
Add Complex Carbs in Small Doses
Most commercial foods on the market are formulated with the high protein needs of a dog’s diet in mind, but just like with people, carbohydrates are important for increasing energy levels and adding to fat stores. Simple carbs like sugar or white bread can be very bad for dogs, as they can make a dog hyperactive and contribute to canine diabetes, but a few spoonfuls of slower burning complex carbs like plain, cooked rice, pasta and oatmeal can help a skinny dog pack on the pounds and give them a tremendous all-day energy boost.
Smaller Meals, More Often
Most dogs never find their fill and will eat anything you put in front of them at any time, but some are a bit more selective. Breaking meals up into several small portions instead of one or two big ones will increase your dog’s metabolic rate and keep them better nourished throughout the day. This also leads to less waste when it comes to the fussy eater that won’t touch their leftovers.
Some “People Foods” Are Okay
Though the conventional wisdom of not feeding a dog table scraps is correct, many foods that we eat are safe for dogs and can be used to help them put on weight and coax them into eating their own food, but this does not mean that you should feed Rover last night’s leftovers. Prepared human foods high in sugar, spices or certain vegetables can be bad and even lethal for a dog, but most respond very well to plain boiled chicken or beef. Many dogs will also gladly accept few hardboiled eggs, which will give your pup a nice, shiny coat.
Observe Your Dog’s Eating Habits
One of the simplest remedies for a dog with an aversion to eating is often the most overlooked. The personalities of dogs can be just as varied as those of people and they can be very picky about things like the time and place they eat. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior regarding the placement of their bowls and surrounding factors. Some dogs may be afraid of large furniture that their food is placed near, others may want to eat their meals earlier in the day and some may just want your company, love and encouragement while they chow down.
As with any person, plant or animal, a dog’s overall health is relative to their weight. Just as you should be concerned about an obese dog that struggles to carry their weight, visible ribs and a generally lethargic state should be taken as a sign that something is wrong. Before you try any of these methods, have your pup examined by a veterinarian to check for any underlying issues, like parasites or an intestinal blockage. A vet who knows your dog personally will likely be able to give you more specific instructions for helping with weight gain.
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, women’s interests, or home and family. She lives in Arizona with her husband, three daughters, and a spunky Jack Russel Terrier who makes life interesting! Dixie got her information for this article from a veterinarian in Toronto at the Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic.