How To Tell If Your Dog Is At Their Ideal Weight
Dogs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Even within the same breed, healthy individual dogs can have different ideal body weights.
To provide an objective measurement, most veterinarians look at the Body Condition Score.
What is a Body Condition Score?
Your dogs body condition score, or BCS, is a standard way of estimating whether a dog is at their ideal weight, or under- or overweight.
The most commonly used scale ranks a dog on a scale from 1-9, with 4.5 being ideal. 1 is underweight , and 9 is obese. Note: Sometimes a scale of 1-5 is used, where 3 is ideal.
Estimate your dogs BCS using the diagram above:
- Look: Observe your dogs shape from the side, and from above
- Feel: Run your hands along your dogs rib cage
- Where does your dog fit on the scale of 1-9?
- For an ideal score , your dogs ribs should not be easily visible from a distance, but you should be able to feel the ribs. As a dog gains weight, the ribs become more difficult to feel due to fat covering.
- Also, you should be able to observe your dogs natural waist from above, and their tummy should tuck up behind their ribs when viewed from the side.
Some breeds, such as Bulldogs, may have a shape that looks different, but they should still have ribs you can feel, and stomachs that dont stick out beyond their rib cage.
This scale can give you a good idea of where your dog is right now, but its always best to check with your veterinarian to know for sure.
Not Switching Your Dogs Food With Age
As dogs get older, they have different nutritional requirements. Puppies should have a different diet from older dogs. Puppy food contains more calories than adult food because it is designed to promote growth and development. When your puppy reaches adulthood, switch to adult food, which is lower in calories. Senior dog food, which is suitable for dogs aged over 7-8 years old, usually contains fewer calories, it is high in fiber and it provides sufficient protein and fat for dogs as they age.
Dog Nutrition : What Kind Of Food Does Your Dog Need For Weight Gain
Dogs that need to put on weight will benefit from food that has a high-calorie content and lots of protein. While weight gain foods typically tend to have a bit extra fat, too much fat content isnt healthy.
Puppy growth formulas are often used to help adult dogs gain weight because of their increased protein and calorie content per serving.
That said, puppies, adults, and senior dogs have different nutritional needs, so its best to stick to food that has been crafted for your pets particular life stage.
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Can Treats Help My Dog Gain Weight
Treats can add a healthy amount of extra calories to your dogs diet. If your dog is a picky eater, then you can try adding some treats to their daily routine. However, too many treats can make them even more selective.
The following buyers guide will answer some more questions before we continue with our list of best dog foods for weight increase.
How Can I Increase My Dogs Appetite
First of all, you need to find out why your dog doesnt have a good appetite. Some dogs are picky by nature, but a sudden loss of appetite can be an indicator of an underlying disease. Indigestion, allergies, and stomach related issues are a common cause of appetite loss. Visit a vet to rule out medical reasons. Switch to a better-tasting premium dog food.
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Packing On The Pounds: How To Put Weight On A Dog Safely
While you may need to help your dog bulk up a bit, this doesnt mean you should just start cramming food in his mouth at all hours of the day and night!
Just as is the case when trying to reduce a dogs weight, you should try to help your dog gain weight gradually. He didnt become underweight overnight, and you arent going to be able to get him back to his target weight overnight either.
This is especially true of dogs whove become extremely thin, as well as those whove been underweight for an extended period of time. In such cases, it is imperative that you learn how to put weight on a malnourished dog safely.
At a basic level, helping your dog to add a few pounds entails nothing more than tweaking his caloric intake and output. If your dog consumes more calories without burning any additional calories, hell gain weight .
In addition to the strategies discussed above, it is also wise to keep a journal while trying to help your dog gain weight. Record any food changes you make, as well as any supplements you begin administering. Its also important to track your dogs weight on a weekly basis.
A journal will not only help you to determine which strategies are producing the best results, it will help when discussing the issue with your vet too.
Reasons Your Dog May Need To Gain Weight
Remember, low body weight is a symptom, not a disease if your dog is underweight, there may be an underlying illness or issue at work, and you must work with your veterinarian to determine the root of the problem. Only after fixing this, will you be able to help your pooch add a little padding.
Reasons your dog may be exhibiting lower-than-normal body weight include:
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Liver Disease
- Dental Problems
While there are several legitimate reasons for trying to increase your dogs body weight, trying to get your young puppy to grow more quickly is not a good idea.
Puppies should grow at a gradual, natural rate for proper skeletal development. There are many dog foods specifically designed for puppies that will help your pup gain weight in a healthy manner while supporting bone and brain growth. Always work with your vet to establish a good daily intake for your puppy and strive to keep him at his ideal weight.
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Weight Gain In Dogs: Common Causes And Treatments
More than half of all dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Being heavy puts our pets at higher risk for arthritis and shortens life expectancy. In addition, obesity has been associated with numerous other problems in dogs, such as certain tumors, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
To avoid weight gain, calories burned must equal or exceed calories consumed. Its as true for your pet as it is for you.
And just as with people, many things can cause your pet to gain weight — from eating too much to getting too little exercise to having a chronic illness. Because were not always the best judges of our dogs physique, its a good idea to talk to your vet if you think your dog may be overweight — especially if the weight gain is sudden.
Some common reasons dogs gain weight include:
Too much food. Often were not sure how many calories we need to maintain a healthy weight. So, its understandable we may overestimate the energy needs of our dogs. And overestimate, we do.
Age can be one reason for the calories-in-calories-out imbalance. Thats because as our pups grow older they often exercise less. Yet, we may continue to feed them the same quantity of food weve always done. The result: weight gain.
A dogs calorie needs can be surprisingly small. Little dogs that arent very active need as few as 185 to 370 calories a day. A dog weighing between 67 and 88 pounds may need between 1,100 and 1,700 calories a day.
When Should You Worry
Your dogs weight can fluctuate throughout its life. From age to activity level, everything matters. I have seen dogs lose weight whenever there is a new partner to play with. I have also seen dogs lose weight in summer and gain a few pounds in winter. Weight loss is often caused by dehydration or fluid loss as well.
Losing less than 10% of normal body weight is usually nothing to worry about. But if the weight loss is rapid and your pet loses more than 10% of its normal body weight, it could be more serious.
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What To Do About Picky Eater Dogs
Some dogs are merely picky eaters, but if your dog suddenly has a loss in appetite, that may cause concern. When it comes to picky eaters, youll also need to consider their palate.
Dogs that dont have a considerable appetite can benefit from more frequent, small meals as well as tasty toppers from delicious-smelling canned foods.
This way, your dog will get the caloric intake he needs from the dry kibble with the addition of some high-protein, tasty goodness from the wet meal.
What Makes A Food Filling
Many factors determine a foods satiety value, or how filling it is relative to its calorie content. The calorie/satiety ratio is measured on a scale called the satiety index.
The satiety index also measures a foods ability to make you feel full, reduce your hunger and lower your calorie intake over the course of the day.
Some foods simply do a better job at satisfying hunger and preventing overeating than others.
Foods that are filling tend to have an increased level of water or air so they dont add on the extra calories. Protein is more filling than fats and carbohydrates, meaning you dont need to eat large volumes to feel full. High fiber is another food group that helps you reach the satiety index without gaining weight because these foods move through the digestive tract slowly, reducing hunger cravings for longer.
Try these 10 foods that you can eat a lot without gaining weight!
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Did You Make This Recipe
The nutrition content of this recipe will depend on the type of kibble that you use.
How to store: You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days or freeze them and theyll keep for up to 3 months. Keep in mind that this recipe includes no preservatives, so it won’t last nearly as long as commercial dog food.
Cause #: Prescription Drugs
A number of prescription drugs can cause weight gain, especially if given for long periods of time. For example, Prednisone can cause weight gain because it mimics Cushings disease when given for too long or in too high dosages, Selmer explains.
The solution? If your dog is gaining weight due to medication, your vet might look into switching to a different drug or trying a different approach. If a veterinarian sees negative side effects, they should look for alternative modes of therapy or different philosophy of care, such as Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, Selmer says.
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Prepare Potatoes For Dog Food
Cook the potatoes by boiling them in water. OK to leave the skins on. Remove any green or dark discoloration and sprouts. They can be mashed or cubed into bite size depending on the preference of your dog. Begin checking the potatoes after around 5 minutes of boiling most potatoes will be done in 10 to 20 minutes. Potatoes are done when tender: The potatoes are done when they are tender all the way through. You can test this by poking the potato with a fork, paring knife, or skewer. Potatoes need to be completely cooked to increase digestibility.
Wrong Food For Diabetes
If your dog has diabetes, it is essential to ensure that your furry friend has a healthy diet and that its calorie intake is suitable for its size and activity levels. Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes in dogs. If your dog is diabetic, its wise to seek advice from your vet and follow a plan to ensure you choose the right foods and you dont overfeed your dog. Losing weight can help to alleviate symptoms. High-fiber, low-fat diets are usually recommended to prevent weight gain in dogs with diabetes.
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Cause #: Undiagnosed Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesnt produce enough thyroid hormone. You can loosely associate hypothyroidism with the furnace of the pets body not burning hot enough, explains Dr. Michel Selmer, DVM, from the Advanced Animal Care Center in Huntington Station, New York. When there is decreased thyroid function, thats when pets gain weight.
Hypothyroidism slows down the entire metabolism, which in turn leads to weight gain. Even if a dog has hypothyroidism and its owner cuts calories, the dog will still gain weight since food is not the cause of the weight gain, Selmer explains.
Hold The Bowl Or Hand Feed Him
The confusion that goes along with dementia often affects your dogs eating habits. They may not be able to find the bowl, or they find it but arent quite sure what to do.
A dogs sense of smell can also be affected as he ages, and if hes blind as well
Holding the bowl up to mouth can make a big difference, and thats what I used to do for Red. She was blind, but never had trouble finding her food until she got dementia and that was a more challenging situation.
Holding the bowl made things a lot easier for her.
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Talk To Your Veterinarian
Your dogs veterinarian is your partner in your dogs health care, so talk to your vet before you make any changes regarding your dogs weight. Ask your vet to perform a complete physical, as there are a number of diseases or health issues that could be affecting your dogs weight loss or appetite.
Youll want to rule out these factors prior to beginning a weight gain program. Your veterinarian can also give you an appropriate goal weight for your dog so you can reach milestones safely and celebrate every pound.
Know What Changes To Look For
How can you tell if your dog is gaining weight? Its important to know what to look for as you make changes in their diet and routine. Feel their ribs, hips, and look at them from above and from a profile. Even if their weight hasn’t changed much, you can still see progress in their body’s definition.
As your pet gains weight and builds muscle, their ribs and hips shouldn’t feel as pronounced, and there should be more bulk around the hips, shoulders and chest. This indicates healthy muscle development.
You are also looking at her energy levels. Healthy muscle and the appropriate calories will give your dog consistent energy to participate in her daily routines and activities.
Use this body conditioning score chart to see if your dog is starting to look healthier.
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Nulo Freestyle Limited + Salmon Recipe Grain
Best Dog Food for Sensitive Stomach and Weight Gain: If your dog has trouble digesting certain ingredients, it can lead to a whole host of problems ranging from recurrent ear infections and skin issues to digestive upset. When your dog cant properly digest his food, he cant absorb the nutrients and it can lead to unhealthy weight loss. The best thing you can do for a dog in this situation is choose a high-quality recipe made with natural ingredients to ensure digestibility and nutrient absorption. Our top pick is Nulo Freestyle Limited + Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. This recipe contains a limited number of ingredients with real salmon as the first ingredient and a single source of novel protein. It features grain-free carbohydrates, a blend of omega fatty acids, and a unique blend of probiotics for healthy and regular digestion. Youll also be glad to know that it contains a whopping 30% protein with 17% fat and over 430 calories per cup.
- Pros: High protein and calories, limited number of ingredients, salmon as single source protein, blend of omega fatty acids, probiotic supplements, chelated minerals
- Cons: Expensive to feed as a staple diet
Natures Logic Dog Food Canine Meal Feast
The key to healthy weight gain is nutrition nutrition that is biologically appropriate for your dog, and this dog kibble for weight gain and healthy living has figured this out. All ingredients used are 100% natural, with no artificial flavor, color or preservatives, and each kibble is full of essential probiotics and enzymes, both known to improve digestion and to reset the canine body. Eating this dog food will help your dog reach his or her ideal weight, without going over, and it is one of the best dog foods for weight gain when you want to purchase a product you can continue using also as your four-legged buddy reachest that set weight goal.
+ Enzymes and probiotics for better digestion
+ Nutrient-dense recipe
+ Free from artificial flavors
Why We Like It Good digestion works two ways, both to lose and gain some weight, and this healthy kibble is packed with the enzymes and probiotics your canine needs to land at an ideal weight.
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What To Do About Picky Eaters
If your dog is underweight because it is too picky about its meal, then you need to consider its a palate as well. Observe and notice which meat your dog enjoys and which ones it avoids.
If your dog doesnt have a good appetite, try feeding smaller portions throughout the day. For instance, instead of two full bowls twice a day, give it four to five smaller portions a day, this also helps with digestion as there is less pressure on their tummy.
You can also add a bit of wet food to make it more tempting for your baby. Lets discuss why wet food is often better.