As a long time dog owner, I have over the years closely witnessed and understood how important dietary regime is for the overall health and well being of our beloved pets. I have struggled with both overweight and underweight dogs and strove to find the ideal dietary regimen that would help our dogs attain a healthy musculature and weight.
As a matter of fact, one of our current dogs was worryingly underweight for the first two years despite all our efforts. In the end, it became blindingly obvious to us that feeding indiscriminately was simply not going to get our dogs reach a healthy weight. The diet also has to be balanced.
But over and above the dietary considerations, I understood that there are other extraneous factors that need to be taken into account such as physical activity, the environment, adequate sleep etc to ensure your pet stays in peak health and fitness.
On the other hand, I also see so many first-time dog owners worrying about their underweight dog. In this tutorial, therefore, I have tried to squeeze the lessons I have learned over the years on how to fatten up a dog. Read on!
Who's this tutorial for and what do you need?
This tutorial is meant for all dog owners who are struggling with emaciated pets. This tutorial requires no fancy or expensive foods and kibble beyond what is normally available in our households and pet stores. However, in order to accomplish the weight gain goals, the tutorial would expect the following two qualities from you as a dog owner:
1) Adequate time: Your underweight pet needs you to take sufficient time from your schedule and see to it that he gets enough exercise and sleep.
2) Patience: There are a number of reasons for your dog is underweight, not all of it attributable to diet. You need to show patience and understand what precisely is bothering the pet. Over time, you would need to experiment so that you have a good idea of what kind of food is appetizing for your dog. In addition, you may also have to experiment with feeding schedules.
Fattening up the dog in 6 easy steps
1. Ensure your dog is not sick
Unlike humans, dogs are not capable of clearly communicating their needs and wants. As pet owners, therefore, it is incumbent upon us to make sure we look out for signs of illness in our pets. A sudden loss of appetite in your dog, and the accompanying loss of weight is probably one of the clearest signal that all is not well with your dog.
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The best course of action is such cases is to make a trip to the vet and have the pet thoroughly looked after. In a large number of cases, bringing your pet back to health by administering medicines can bring back his lost appetite.
2. Alter your pet's eating schedule
Typically, pet owners stick to a routine feeding schedule. However, if you are struggling with an underweight pooch, it is time to tinker with that schedule. Instead of one or two meals a day, try splitting it into multiple smaller meals every few hours.
Splitting the meal into smaller portions helps in two distinct ways. Firstly, your dog would get his nutrients and energy at regular intervals, keeping him energetic through the day. Secondly, the dog would normally clean up with the whole meal with no leftovers.
3. Check the nutritional profile of food offered to dogs
The basic concept of metabolism is the same as both humans and dogs. In other words, if your dog is expending more calories than he is receiving then it's natural that he would lose weight over time. In such cases, you should check the nutritional profile of the pet food you buy, and calculate if the amount of food offered to the pet provides him with enough calories.
As a rule of thumb, you should check if the store bought pet food offers a balanced diet to your dog with adequate proteins and fats. It is a sad fact that many pet foods in the market use low-grade ingredients making them unsuitable for ideal growth of your dogs. As a dog owner, be diligent and ensure your dog gets sufficient amounts of high-quality protein.
4. Be creative with your dog's treats
Instead of mindlessly offering random store bought treats to your dog, it's time to get creative and offer him wholesome treats. For example, peanut butter is not only an excellent source of protein but also something that dogs enjoy a lot.
Scooping up a spoonful of peanut butter would ensure plenty of nutrition besides tickling the appetite of your dog in the right way. Even better, smear a spoonful of peanut butter of a piece of vegetable like a carrot to make for a wholesome and healthy treat.
5. Ensure your dog gets proper workout
Lack of proper exercise is one of the biggest factors in making a dog slow, unresponsive, unhealthy, and underweight. Without adequate exercise, the metabolism rate and energy levels of your dog experience a sharp decline. Over a period of time, this results in muscle loss, a host of illnesses, lack of appetite, and, of course, loss of weight.
Make sure that your dog gets enough time to play and run and expend the excess energy throughout the day. Daily exercise means that your dog maintains a healthy appetite and enjoys his balanced diet.
6. Be patient with your dog
Many times, especially during or after a bout of illness, your dog would experience a lack of appetite and wouldn't eat whatever you present before him. In such cases, as an owner, I learned that it's best to show a lot of patience with the dog and never get angry. Losing your temper with your dog stresses your pet causing him to lose appetite even more. In such cases, gently encourage your dog and praise him.
I hope that the above tutorial would be of some help to all those pet owners worried and struggling with their underweight pets. The most important thing I learned over the years was that dogs have their personality, and you really have to spend time with them to understand their likes in terms of treats and feeding preferences etc.
Knowing your dog is also important as you can then read signs of illness and stress, and have them immediately looked after by a vet. The list of steps I have written above helped me not only get my underweight dog to optimal health but also ensure I do not experience it with my other dogs. If you have additional suggestions then do let me know via the comments section below.