Raising a beautiful, healthy and well-mannered dog is not easy. Feeding, walking, toilet training and basic commands – all this requires complete dedication from the owner for several months. Fortunately, the question of making up a diet today is solved simply: ready-made industrial feeds(dry food) are perfectly balanced and capable of providing four-legged babies with everything they need for development and growth.
However, sometimes there are complaints from the owners that the puppy is not gaining weight on dry food. Let’s take a look at the common causes of this problem and tell you what measures you can take.
Is there a problem?
First, you need to understand if there is a cause for concern. Dogs differ from each other in growth rates and constitution. Representatives of small and medium-sized breeds reach the body weight of an adult by 6–9 months, while their large breeds grow up to 18 months, and sometimes up to two years.
Remember that breeds were bred for different purposes. For example, by status, cops and greyhounds are supposed to be “thin and sonorous”, otherwise they simply could not be so fast to run. What is a normal constitution for other breeds is already overweight for them. In addition, such dogs have very light bones, due to which they always weigh less than representatives of other breeds of the same height at the withers.
Please note that all puppies lose their so-called “infant plumpness” already at 4–5 months. At the same time, the increase in height and weight is abrupt. Often, the growth of tubular bones is so ahead of the set of muscle mass that the dog looks like a “stork” on excessively long and thin legs. However, over time, the situation gradually improves, and the animal acquires a harmonious physique, characteristic of its breed.
Find out what the physical development of the puppy should be by its age. These data can be obtained from your breeder, on breed forums, and thematic information sites. If all parameters are within the norm (or even at its lower limit), there is nothing to worry about.
You should not feed your puppy with treats and natural products in addition to dry food: this will only disturb the balance of substances in the diet and provoke digestive disorders.
Daily rate and feeding regimen
Manufacturers of ready-to-eat dog foods (dry food) always indicate daily feeding rates on the packaging. If the puppy does not gain weight on dry food, check that the specified rate is being followed. You should not trust your eye: it is better to arm yourself with a measuring cup or an accurate kitchen scale. This is the only way you will be able to fully control the pet’s diet. Do not forget that the norms on the packages of dry foods are average: they do not take into account the physical activity of the animal, as well as the conditions of its keeping.
Puppies that run, exercise, or live outdoors need more calories than their sofa cousins. It is permissible for them to increase the daily rate by 10–20% of the recommended one. If the mass does not grow even on enhanced nutrition, it is worth looking for another reason.
Feeding regime is of no less importance. Puppies are fed 3-5 times a day (depending on age), while the daily intake is divided into equal portions. It is undesirable to put dry food in a bowl for the whole day, as dogs instinctively seek to absorb all the food that is available to them. When a puppy overeats heavily, its fragile gastrointestinal tract cannot cope with the load. As a result, food is not absorbed properly, and the body does not receive important nutrients.
Dry food is not suitable for the puppy, therefore weight is not gained
The dog is a predator and should eat mostly meat. Therefore, foods with a high carbohydrate content are categorically unsuitable for it. People gain weight well on porridge and pancakes, but the dog’s body is structured differently. Its saliva does not contain enzymes that begin to break down carbohydrate food even before it enters the stomach. In addition, the intestines of predators are about half the size of a human, and the microflora is much less saturated. Therefore, their digestive system does not cope well with the digestion of plant foods, especially grains.
The main source of energy for a dog is fats and proteins, which determines its nutritional needs. If you feed your puppy dry food based on grains, it can eat a large amount of food, while gaining weight is extremely difficult. We recommend using biologically appropriate food for dogs, that is, meeting their needs as predators. This is not only a guarantee of good physical shape, but also the prevention of many diseases.
It is important for puppies to get a sufficient amount of meat and animal fats, because the nutrients that they do not receive now (during the growth period) cannot be compensated in the future.
Some owners disagree that carbohydrate foods interfere with weight gain. They cite the example of stray dogs that eat whatever they can, but don’t look skinny. It is important to realize that such dogs have gone through a tough natural selection, adapted to unfavorable conditions and unusual food for themselves. Where is the guarantee that your pet would be among the survivors?
Choosing the right feed
When choosing a ready-made diet, you need to focus not on the indicators of guaranteed analysis, but on the first 5 positions in the list of ingredients: they are the basis of the product. If it is meat or other sources of animal protein (fish, eggs, entrails of herbivores and poultry), then everything is in order.
When there is cause for concern
A lean physique in itself is not a marker of poor health. On the contrary, extra pounds put an additional load on the fragile skeleton, make the puppy move less, which significantly reduces the possibility of learning about the world around it. All this negatively affects not only physical, but also mental development.
It is worth sounding the alarm if a thin puppy has other signs of discomfort:
-Decreased interest in games;
-Lethargy and drowsiness;
In these cases, it is prudent to go to the veterinary center for a detailed examination, and then act according to the doctor’s recommendations.
True exhaustion (cachexia) is relatively rare and difficult to confuse with a lean physique. In this state, the body of the animal resembles a skeleton: the ribs protrude; the muscles are rapidly destroyed, leaving only skin and bones. Appetite can either disappear or persist. In the second case, the puppy eats, but does not gain weight.
Cachexia is accompanied by various diseases: oncological, cardiovascular, endocrine, neurological, infectious. The diagnosis can only be made by a veterinarian, so the puppy should be shown to him as soon as possible.
The reasons why a puppy does not gain weight on dry food can be quite serious and should not be overlooked. However, the problem is often far-fetched. Some owners want to see a pet with the same fluffy lump that they once brought home. But the puppy inevitably grows and develops, turning into a teenager, and then into an adult dog. Completeness will not benefit the dog, and possibly create additional difficulties and health problems.