Many owners will worry if they think their dog has put weight on, but it’s just as important to ensure they aren’t losing too much weight either. An underweight dog can experience all sorts of health problems — such as lethargy, low muscle mass, and a dull coat — so keeping them at an optimum weight is the key to a happy, healthy dog.
How do I know if my dog is underweight?
This handy ‘Dog Size-O-Meter’ tool from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association helps you track your dog’s weight. If very little to no fat can be felt under the skin — and the ribs, spine and hip bones can be easily seen — then it’s most likely your dog is underweight.
As the guide notes, it’s important to take into account individual breed characteristics. For example, Whippets and Greyhounds are naturally leaner, so they may be a healthy weight even if the guide indicates otherwise.
While this is a useful tool, we also recommend getting your active dog’s weight checked around every two to three weeks.
How can I help my dog gain weight safely?
We know managing your dog’s weight can be tricky, so Autarky’s expert team of nutritionists have collated their top tips for helping your dog gain weight safely and healthily:
- Increasing quantity
This tip may seem obvious, but getting it right is what matters — or else your dog might end up too far the other way. Increasing quantity doesn’t mean offering them more treats (or the scraps from your plate!) — it means making minor adjustments to your Autarky meals to increase calorie intake.
We recommend a 25% increase on top of their normal meal portion. For example, if you normally feed your dog one 200g Autarky cup, increase with a quarter of a cup, making their meal 250g altogether. This can then be adjusted as needed to support maintenance.
- Smaller, frequent meals
Dogs with small appetites may benefit from eating smaller meals throughout the day. For example, if your dog has two Autarky meals per day, then increase to three. Feeding little and often can allow for a better nutrient uptake as the feed can be more efficiently digested if not in large, bulky quantities.
- Switch up their macronutrients
If your dog isn’t gaining weight, despite your efforts, it might be time to shift your dog’s macronutrients and opt for a higher fat diet. This diet can be effective because fat is extremely calorie dense, so a little goes a long way. For example, one gram of fat has nine calories, while one gram of both protein and carbohydrate has only four calories.
The best higher calorie options in the range are Autarky Adult Salmon or Autarky Adult Grain Free Turkey. Gradually change the diet over 10-14 days to help avoid digestive upset.
- Monitor exercise
We know our active dogs love nothing more than getting out in the great outdoors; but, if you have recently increased their exercise, this could be contributing to their weight loss. You can counteract this by increasing the feed and additional calories in your dog’s diet to support the energy output.
If your dog must gain weight, stick to gentle exercise until their condition is moving in the right direction — then gradually increase again, making sure to increase the feed as needed. Age and breed should also always be considered when choosing a new exercise plan.
- Don’t rush it!
Healthy weight gain won’t happen overnight — it’s important to remain patient when embarking on a new routine with your dog. Always have regular check ins with your vet and monitor your dog for any behaviour changes. Slowly, but surely, you’ll start to see the results.
If you’d like to learn more about or products or need advice on feeding your dog, our friendly, experienced team is on hand to help Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5pm on 01832 737 300.