How to Feed Underweight Dogs


If your dog has all the signs of falling under the ‘underweight’ category, and the veterinarian confirms your dog’s condition, you can make the necessary adjustments to its food and nutrient intake.

But, what about other elements that may have an influence on your dog’s predicament? This article will shed some light on planning how to feed your dog based on various factors. 

feeding underweight dog
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

Planning how to feed underweight dogs

Having a feeding plan for your underweight dog allows you to monitor its food intake and its progress in gaining weight.

Food portioning

Feed your underweight dog small portions of food throughout the day so that it consumes more calories, thus helping it to fatten up steadily. 

The food portions, i.e. the amount of food per serving, have to be consistent.

Frequency of the meals

While the food portions should remain consistent, you can gradually increase the frequency of the meals for your underweight dog. This means adding 1 extra meal or feeding time.

It does not mean adding to the portion or serving size of the food, as this might promote overeating. Overeating will lead to other problems (obesity, issues digesting, nausea).

Improved quality of the food

You may want to improve the quality of the food that your underweight dog consumes. This is simply because better quality food will address the amount of protein and fat needed in your dog’s diet.  You can also consider high calorie dog food that is high in protein and nutritionally balanced to help your dog build some muscle mass. 

Some foods meant for puppies have a higher protein and fat content compared to dog food meant for adult dogs. As such, in specific weight gain cases, some veterinarians may also recommend giving an underweight dog quality puppy food.

improving the quality of the dog food
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

Reasons a dog could be losing weight

There are a number of reasons for weight loss in a dog. Here are some of the possible reasons. 

Cold weather (dog losing weight due to cold weather) 

An underweight dog usually lacks adequate body fat. This, coupled by a colder  environment, means that the dog may struggle to maintain its body temperature. It could end up burning more calories in the process just to stay warm. This therefore causes the dog to lose weight.

Thus, one way to help the underweight dog get back to its ideal weight — and sustain it, especially in colder environments — is to provide the dog more warmth in its surroundings.

When the dog has allergies

A reason for weight loss could be food intolerance — your dog may be allergic to the current dog food it is given. This prevents it from eating well, hence losing weight as a result.

To rectify this problem, you can determine a proper diet and the right food for your dog with the help of a veterinarian. Your underweight dog will eventually start eating well again and start gaining weight healthily.

When the dog is a fussy eater

An underweight dog that happens to be a fussy eater can be trained to eat properly. The steps are simple; but first, you need to rule out a few things.

Is your dog being ‘fussy’ because it is not actually hungry? Is it still full?

Is your dog fussy because it is actually unwell? 

If the answer is ‘No’ to these questions, then your dog could genuinely be picky about the food. So, the next step is to train it to follow its diet:

  • Place the food in front of your dog and check in with it later.
  • After about 15–20 minutes, check to see if the food has been eaten. If the food is untouched or unfinished, pick the food bowl up and place it somewhere else.
  • Then, about 1 hour or so later, repeat the earlier process. By then, your dog would be hungrier and hopefully more willing to eat or finish the food.

If this method works in training your dog to eat what is given, stick with it for each mealtime. This will hopefully change your dog’s fussy streak, and it will start to gain weight.

When the dog is old

When dealing with an older underweight dog, there are a few things to bear in mind. Older dogs may not be able to eat as much due to their age. Thus, it may take more time and effort to get your older dog to gain weight.

Furthermore, older dogs lose weight because they lose muscle mass and lack the appetite to eat given their age. Here, boosting your older dog’s appetite by giving it wet food instead might help.

Alternatively, you can give your older dog specially formulated food (for senior dogs). This should preferably contain 24% protein or higher, less carbohydrates, ample calcium and the right amount of choline. 

Petcubes range for senior dogs, which contains 70% meat protein, includes beef, kangaroo and pork options. Best of all, you can buy the Senior Trial Packs first before committing to the full Senior diet.

Final words on how to feed underweight dogs

Each underweight dog’s condition should be addressed separately. To find out more about this, read: Dog Losing Weight: What you should know, as it may require a different method. The right methods will help the dog to achieve its optimum weight successfully.