My Puppy Is Skinny But Eats

Does your puppy eat well and still look a bit thin? ¹

There are many reasons why your puppy could be skinny even though he eats a lot. It could be because of his breed. Some breeds have very little body fat and have naturally slender bodies. For other breeds though, it could mean that there is an underlying body condition or your dog burns more calories than he intakes.

So as long as your puppy doesn’t look too skinny or his ribs are not visible, you should not worry that much. But if you cannot tell if he is too skinny at his age, breed, and sex, here is a quick guide to determine if your puppy is too skinny or needs to get checked ASAP by a veterinarian.

Signs that your puppy is too skinny

For most skinny puppies, the signs are obvious
because you can see the ribs! ²

You can do a quick body check to your puppy but there are a few signs that could help you to determine if he is skinny or just right. 

If you can see his ribs or you see that there is an extreme curve between his ribs and hips and the fact that you can see his spine and rib bones, then he is underweight.

But if you plan to do a body check, try to feel if his bones are covered with little fat or no fat at all. If it does and you also feel the bones protruding near the base of his tail, then your puppy is too skinny. 

Reasons why puppies are skinny whilst eating well

Aside from the fact it could be because of its breed, there are other factors why your puppy is skinny or losing weight. They could be picky eaters for instance. You could have been overfeeding them with treats during the day. And as a result, they only eat a lot if they like their food.

Some puppies are skinny because they might only
eat whilst you are home ³

Your dog could also be suffering from separation anxiety and could not eat when you are not around. Sounds adorable but you need to get help from anxiety specialists or trainers to fix this so they will eat even if you’re not there to help him.

There is also a possibility that your little pup gets stressed when they are around with other dogs or other humans. He is probably confused or scared thus making it hard for him to eat in peace and not finish his meal.

If your pet’s appetite isn’t the problem and receiving nutritious food, then it could be intestinal parasites – particularly roundworms or hookworms that are causing his weight loss or inability to gain weight. Roundworms are one of the extremely common intestinal parasites that deprive your little pup to get the nutrients from his food.

Some dogs don’t show symptoms of being infected but if you see roundworms, which are usually white or light brown and a few inches long, in his poop or vomit then he could be infected with it. They could have gotten it either from their mother or the environment or eating infected host.

Your pet also could be suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, contagious diseases like a bacterial infection, or metabolic disorders. There is also a possibility that your puppy can’t handle certain foods that cause them to have diarrhea. You may have to take your pet to the veterinarian to have it check to determine if he has a parasite or a disease. It’s better to find out sooner rather than later so it can be treated right away. 

If your vet has ruled out these possibilities after several tests, then your dog might not have been getting enough calories or may have been suffering from malnutrition. Despite eating a lot, if your puppy is not getting enough nutrients, it can lead to many health issues. They must get the proper nutrition, diet, and amount of food required for their growth. 

Ways to get a skinny puppy to gain weight

Simply increasing the number of calories your puppy eats is not a good idea. The first thing you have to do is to talk to your veterinarian as he will advise you on your dog’s ideal weight, which food they can eat, proper diet routine, and how much they need to eat. It’s very important to know these things as you might overfeed your little pup. I know chubby pups are cute but it might cause more health problems for your puppy.

You can also ask your veterinarian to check if your dog is suffering from a disease. Depending on the result, you may ask for vaccination, deworming, and other health checks to make sure that your puppy gets the right treatment before it gets worse.

Sounds odd but exercise can help puppies to
gain weight. ⁴

It is also important that your little pup has a nice place to walk around, exercise, and do their dog stuff. It helps them to build some muscles, get them enough energy to eat, and stimulate their appetite. Either you make some space in your house or take your little pup for a walk outside. However, make sure to wait until 10-14 days after his last vaccination booster before you take your dog outside. You don’t want him to get sick from possible viruses he can get from outside.

Another thing you can do is monitor your pet’s eating habits. Some dogs don’t like to eat and get stressed when they are around other pets. They may need to be fed in a different area and away from other dogs or needs extra encouragement. 

Lastly, some dogs need several small meals instead of large meals. So you need to examine your feeding methods as well.

Ways to feed a skinny puppy

If there are no underlying health problems, you can increase the amount of food on his plate as long as you follow the recommendation of your vet. You need to follow the nutritional plan and feeding schedule that your vet suggested to ensure he gets the nutrition that he needs for his growth. 

Make sure to avoid overfeeding him as it can have serious consequences on your dog. You can divide up his food into 3-4 small meals throughout the day.

You can also consider giving smaller meals in the morning and a larger meal at night. This way, his body will store fats during sleep instead of burning energy. 

Good quality food is very important as is feeding
smaller quantities several times a day ⁵

Another thing to change is the quality of the food. What you need to look for and buy are commercial foods that are moderately high in calories and protein for him to gain weight and for his growth development. 

Look for foods that have a meat protein as the main ingredient rather than corn or wheat. But then again, keep in mind not to add too many calories and too quickly as it could cause digestive issues. 

Having a proper balance of fiber is also important as this affects gut health and the quality of their stool. So be sure to check the nutritional chart at the back of the package to know what you need to buy. 

If your little pup asks for treats, you can offer healthy treats such as carrots and sweet potato. All-natural peanut butter is also a good alternative to many dog treats.

As for the picky eaters, you can put canned food or human food mixed in with their food but be careful as not all human food is safe or appropriate for dogs such as chocolates, onions, and raw or undercooked meat, eggs, and bones. You can try adding canned tuna, beef broth, or canned pumpkin on top of their food instead to make his meal tastier. You can also try adding hot water to their dried food so that it would be easier to eat them.

You may also be tempted to give your little pup supplements however without consulting your vet, it may do more harm than what you are expecting.

Lastly, provide them plenty of water as it is as important as having enough food.

Dog breeds that are most likely to have skinny puppies

Like what I mentioned before, few breeds are skinny but still healthy. If your little pup is one of these breeds, then there is nothing you need to worry as it is normal for these breeds to be skinny. So here are the dog breeds that are most likely to have skinny puppies:

A beautiful Whippet puppy. But whippets are more
likely to have skinny puppies…⁶
  1. Italian Greyhound
  2. Whippet
  3. Afghan Hound
  4. Saluki
  5. Greyhound
  6. Kanni
  7. Sloughi
  8. Ibizan Hound
  9. Pharaoh Hound
  10. Azawakh

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that younger dogs go through growth spurts and might take a little longer for them to grow in their bodies. What your little pup ultimately needs are proper diet, proper exercise, and love and care from his owners. You should also keep track of his progress and food intake to know if your efforts are working or it is time to do something different. Lastly, it would be best to go to a qualified veterinarian to get a proper idea of what’s going with your puppy. Talk to them before making any changes to their food, your feeding schedule, and many more. They’ll be able to tell you which is the best and the safest program for your dog. 

Photo Credits

¹ Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

² Photo by Piper Dog on Flickr

³ Photo by Richard Brutyo on Unsplash

⁴ Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

⁵ Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr

⁶ Photo by Chris Arthur-Collins on Unsplash