11 Tips for How to Fatten up a Dog


Every good pet owner is always concerned about their dog maintaining an ideal weight. However, this may not always be the case as different factors can cause your canine friend to be underweight or malnourished. Many dogs that don’t get the right nutritional and calories content are most likely going to be underweight.

This can make them susceptible to many health issues like bone problems, organ failure, and muscular atrophy. Therefore, it is important to look for effective ways to promote a healthy weight gain for your underweight dog.

This does not mean feeding them with excessive fatty foods as this will only contribute to excessive weight gain. Instead, you should come with a diet plan to help build your dog’s muscles while maintaining the right fats.

I. 11 Tips to Help Fatten Up Your Dog

  1. Determine if Your Dog is Underweight

There are many reasons why your dog looks too skinny or is underweight. According to Purina, some of these reasons are he might be recovering from an illness or injury, or if he is a former stray. Another reason, which is supported by many scientific journals, is that your dog might be a picky eater.

Before you decide to help your dog gain weight, you have to confirm first if they are underweight or look skinny. You can tell if your dog is underweighted by looking at his bones. If your dog’s spine, ribs, and pelvic bones are apparent, then he is indeed underweight. Another way is by looking at your dog’s figure. According to Pet Express, the ideal body weight for dogs is a shape similar to an hourglass.

After doing so, call your veterinarian. If your veterinarian determines that your dog’s low weight is not a cause of medical problems, then you can now begin your journey in helping your dog gain weight.

  1. Consult Your Veterinarian


Before making some changes to your dog’s meal plan or heading into your journey of making your dog gain weight, you must first consult with your veterinarian. Sudden weight loss for dogs can be explained if he is either sick or has a medical history.

You need to make sure that your dog is physically healthy before you help bulk him up. Some dogs look too skinny or thin because of underlying medical conditions. Therefore, you need to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions before deciding on helping them gain weight.

Moreover, you need to be reassured that your dog is not putting on the wrong weight or if he is gaining weight quickly.

  1. Choose Dog Food Wisely

When you’re preparing for your dog’s meal plan, always make sure that you choose a good quality dog food that is high in both protein and fat. It also should contain real meat as its main ingredient. Avoid foods with fillers such as animal byproducts or vegetables. We are helping your dog gain weight, but the right kind of weight.

Also, puppy food is generally richer in nutrients and is one option you should consider for your dog’s meal plan. Puppies gain weight quickly because of the nutrients contained in puppy foods. It is recommended for adult dogs too. When you do your dog’s meal plan, always make sure you are putting the right amount or the right proportions. We do not want your dog to gain the wrong kind of weight.

  1. Consider Human Food

It may sound strange or weird, but yes, you can consider adding some human food to your dog’s meal plans. Some human foods can help increase your dog’s calorie intake.

However, keep in mind that not all human foods are safe for dogs to consume. Moreover, the foods that you will share with your dog should also be done in moderation.

We have listed down some of the foods you can share with your dog to help them attain the ideal weight.

  • Lean meat-Yes, you can add the meat you usually consume to your dog’s meals. It can be pork or poultry; just make sure that you remove all the bones before giving them to your dog. You can either cook the meat or give it to them raw (but it is still better to boil the meat beforehand).
  • Eggs-Whether it is raw, sunny-side up, or runny eggs, you can share your eggs with your dog. Eggs contain protein, which can be vital for your dog’s body-building or weight-gaining journey. However, it is recommendable not to add any condiments to the eggs. Instead, give unseasoned eggs to your dogs.
  • Fish-This may seem like an unnecessary option, but you can give fish to your dog. According to Puppy Up, fish like salmon contains nutrients such as Omega-3-Fatty Acids, which is considered an essential component of the body. Not only does it boosts their immune system but also helps them gain the right weight. However, avoid feeding uncooked and seasoned fish to your dog. Some fresh fish contain different bacteria or parasites, which can be harmful to your dogs.
  • Rice-Rice is commonly known to help lessen the symptoms of a dog’s upset stomach. It is also a human food that can be given to dogs daily to help them gain weight healthily. This is because rice is a primary source of carbohydrates, vitamin D, and fiber.
  • Fruits-Fruits such as pineapple and some berries contain the right number of different vitamins that your dog will need when gaining weight. However, avoid giving many fruits to your canine friend daily. Ensure to balance it with meat and a source of protein and carbohydrates.

  1. Add Nutritional Supplements


It might seem an uncanny option, but you can add nutritional supplements to your dog’s food to help them gain weight fast. Adding nutritional supplements to your dog’s meals can make your dog gain weight quickly, especially those that are picky eaters.

This is because most nutritional supplements are usually packed with minerals, vitamins, and protein, which are vital for helping your dog gain weight the right way. Not only do these ingredients help in fattening up your dog, but they can also help in their immune system and increase their muscle mass.

However, before your give your dog any nutritional supplements, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian first. While nutritional supplements can help dogs gain weight quickly, they can also cause harm in the long run, especially if given without a prescription.

  1. Deworming

Deworming is not only a preventive measure that can help avoid parasites but can also help your dog gain weight. Deworming is a common preventive care for dogs and cats that fights against parasites, which can inhibit your dog’s system and lead to weight loss.

Deworming your dog often or as prescribed by your veterinarian not only helps your dog’s immune system but also helps them gain weight. This also decreases the risk of transmission of unwanted medical conditions from your dog to you.

  1. Start Slowly

While all the above tips will help your dog gain weight, it is important to start slowly and feed them small meals throughout the day. While the goal is to fatten your pet, you don’t want them putting on weight too fast or gain the wrong kind of weight.

When they gain weight too fast, there is a high likelihood that the extra weight will put pressure on their joints. Another problem that can occur from feeding them too much food at once is the refeeding syndrome. Since the malnourished dog can’t handle the sudden food increase, they will suffer from hormonal fluctuations and electrolytes.

Start small and set goals that will help your dog gain weight gradually. For instance, you can add 10% of their food intake each week until they achieve the right and healthy calorie amount. Continue to monitor their progress as you make the changes accordingly.

  1. Split Meals throughout the Day


Similarly, consider feeding your dog small portions throughout the day. Unknown to most pet owners, splitting the calorie intake of a dog with a low appetite can make a huge difference. When you split their meals into smaller portions throughout the day, they will experience increased energy levels and metabolism.

Small and frequent meals such as treats or a small plate of a meal can help get more food into your dog’s system. This trick can also help improve their digestion. However, make sure that the meals you feed to your dogs are still following your meal plan.

This can effectively help gain weight since puppies that take four to five meals a day gain weight quickly. Feeding smaller meals to your dog should be done moderately. It is also advisable to stick to a specific routine each day when splitting their meals. This will make your dog more excited when the time for eating gets closer.

  1. Don’t Forget to Exercise

Remember that our entire goal is for your dog to gain the right kind of weight, so ensure that they get the right amount of exercise. When you increase their calorie intake, this will make them gain weight.

However, not all of this weight is the right amount of weight. You want your canine to have a balanced combination of muscle and fat. This only means that you have to take them out for an exercise routine occasionally. Doing exercises also helps against muscle wasting and also stimulates their appetite, which is one of the critical things you should consider when they usually weigh low or is thin.

However, if your canine friend is currently underweight, then you should not let him engage in any form of exercise. You may want to help them gain weight first before putting them on an exercise plan.

  1. Don’t Force It

When your dog does not want to eat anymore or does not want to eat, do not force them. The same goes for if your dog feels a bit under the weather or does not look active as they were before; do not force them to eat. They might be exhibiting symptoms of depression. When a dog is depressed, do not force them to do anything.

This period usually requires a lot of patience and understanding because, like humans, dogs feel sad or depressed too. Moreover, there is no scientifically correct way to help them out of this period. Remember that when your dog wants to eat, they will eat! Do not be too hard or harsh on them just because you want them to gain weight.

  1. Maintain Results

When you have achieved your dog’s ideal weight or goal, make sure that you still do these steps or do the same routines you did to maintain the results. You have to treat your dogs the same way you treated them on day one.

Once you achieve your ideal weight goal for your dog, you can either return to their usual meal plan or cut their caloric intake and eventually start going back to their usual routine. Take note, eventually!

Still, your dog’s food should contain the same amount of protein, minerals, and vitamins they contained before. You should also continue with your exercise routine to maintain your dog’s weight for a very long time. Remember that you can stop after attaining your goal. Your dog can lose weight any time, so it’s up to you to maintain those results!

II. Causes of Dogs Being Underweight

Various factors can contribute to your dog being underweight. They include:

  1. Environmental of Behavioral Problems

Environmental or Behavioral Problems can cause your dogs to lose weight. Some dogs do not eat when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. When this happens, you might think that they are being disobedient.

However, this is a sign that your dog is struggling emotionally at the moment. You will know that your dog is depressed or stressed when they look inactive or if their eating and sleeping habits change. You might also notice that they don’t enjoy the same type of activities they usually enjoy.

If your dog is living in an environment that is stressful, an environment full of yelling and shouting, then you can be assured that this is one of the major causes of your dog is underweight.

None of the tips we have mentioned above can help your dog gain weight if he is living in a stressful environment. The best thing to do when your dog is feeling sad or if they look depressed is to give them attention and lots of hugs or kisses. However, do not bother them since they usually require space when going through depression.

When a dog is living in a stress-free environment, then your dog will be energetic and more active and will eventually gain the right kind of weight.

  1. Illness

Just like humans, various illnesses can result in loss of appetite or weight loss in dogs. Conditions like cancer can results in a lack of appetite, which will make the pup lose weight eventually.

  1. Picky Eater

This is no brainer! Dogs that are picky eaters are more unlikely to maintain a healthy weight. In this case, you need to find foods that they enjoy and include them more often in their diet. Besides, you can be creative and flavor up foods that they hardly eat but contains an adequate amount of vitamins essential for healthy weight gain. Another great tip is to give them wet or fresh food, especially if they don’t like dry food.

  1. Old Age

Old age may be another factor why dogs may be underweight. Some age-related issues include tooth decay or oral pain when chewing. If this is the case, it is recommendable to food that is specially designed for older pups. Also, supplement the dry dog food with wet and fresh dog food. This will help them get the right nutrition that is needed to maintain a healthy weight.

  1. Neglect

Dogs that have been neglected or found as a stray are more likely to be malnourished and underweight than their counterparts. This is also true for dogs that have been rescued from cruelty. Therefore, if you have adopted a dog from a shelter, it is important to get its background information and work a plan with your vet to help it attain the right weight.

III. Conclusion

The journey to making your dog gain the right kind of weight is definitely rewarding, but it is not going to be easy. It will require a lot of patience, time, and effort. You have to be fully committed to this journey for your dog to gain the right kind of weight.

Your dog must neither be overweight nor underweight. Dogs that have the right and healthy weight will have the energy they need to lead happy and healthy lives.

Always remember that underweight dogs do not mean a lost cause. You can help your dog gain the right kind of weight as its owner. Keep the above tips in mind and don’t forget to consult with your vet.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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