Cachexia or exhaustion in dogs is commonly associated with the neglect of animals, often malnourished or fed with low-calorie, spoiled waste. How to fatten up a dog then? However, weight loss and painful appearance may also be typical for pets, which is not always due to improper care. What weight can be considered the norm, when the owner begins to worry and how to help your pet – about this further.

funny dogs

Weight standards for dogs of different breeds

Representatives of different breeds of dogs differ in size, body kitting, and, accordingly, weight values. Before deciding about an animal’s feeding, it is vital to study the concept of norm specifically for the animal.

Examples of average weight for adult dogs of popular breeds are given in the table:

BreedNormal weight value (in kg)
German Shepherd28,5-36
Great Dane70-90
Yorkshire Terrier2,3-2,6

Natural changes in these indicators are influenced by pregnancy and the period of feeding the offspring in females, the maturation of puppies, and increased stress during the dog’s work with a low-calorie diet.

Suppose the calculation of feeding rates is carried out, taking into account the pet’s age, housing, and operation. Still, its weight is rapidly declining and can not increase in any way. In that case, it is worth examining the animal at the vet for the presence of hidden internal diseases and disorders.

exhaustion in a dog

Symptoms and signs of dog exhaustion

When you look at the exhausted dog, the lack of bodyweight becomes visible to the naked eye. Such animals have a good view of the ribs, strongly retracted abdomen, and faded often ruffled coat. The pet itself becomes sluggish and apathetic, losing more and more strength every day.

Suppose this condition is not characteristic of dogs at the genetic level (for example, relevant for greyhounds). In that case, it is worth reconsidering the scheme of feeding and caring for the pet, paying particular attention to veterinary care and caloric value of products used in feeding.

dog and pizza

Why the dog is not gaining weight

If the dog eats well but does not put on weight persistently, it may be caused by a worm infestation, which is often found in the yard of street animals.

Cachexia is often one of the main symptoms of the following diseases:

  • chronic and acute kidney failure;
  • hepatitis;
  • hepatosis;
  • cholecystitis;
  • cholestasis;
  • inflammatory processes in the oral cavity and digestive system.

Did you know? The fattest dog in the Guinness Book of Records is a border collie called Cassie. Her weight at the time of registration was 58 kg, which is almost three times the norm for this breed’s dogs. So this dogs’ owner must have asked himself “how to fatten up a dog?” too often ?

In addition, weight loss often occurs against the background of poisoning, viral and bacterial diseases, hormonal, and autoimmune diseases. Still, in any case, you can eliminate the problem only after a comprehensive examination and a course of appropriate therapy.

Other causes of exhaustion are:

  • birth of more than 10 puppies and their prolonged feeding;
  • advanced age of the pet and refusal to eat due to the deterioration of health;
  • postoperative period or rehabilitation period after severe illness;
  • prolonged absence of food and wandering of the animal;
  • a breed propensity to lose weight (relevant for many hound breeds of dogs).

In a mild form of cachexia, one proper diet may be sufficient. Still, in severe cases, the animal is given food only after a maintenance therapy course and necessarily in small portions.

Learn also about how to clean dog ears at home

exhausted dog

Meals after illness or surgery

Peculiarities of the dog’s diet after the surgery depends on the type of manipulation performed. For example, in the case of some gastroenterological problems, animals are placed a probe that irritates the mucous membrane of the esophagus and other organs of the digestive system in the course of the operation.

In this case, solid dry food will only exacerbate the irritated surface’s discomfort and inflammation, so it is better to replace it with liquid or semi-liquid food, perhaps even for feeding on a syringe. Smaller dogs can be held while feeding, and for the convenience of larger animals, you can use racks.

As for the composition of the food, animals are often recommended a diet with high-fat content in the postoperative period, which allows you to get enough energy without overloading the digestive system.

However, based on the root cause of the existing disorder, the veterinary surgeon may recommend a diet with low-fat content, thereby preventing possible digestive disorders and constipation in the pet.

Did you know? The average bite force of a dog is 155 kg, while people can bite with the force of 55 kg, and crocodiles – 1135 kg ?

The most comfortable and most useful solution for the dog in severe exhaustion is using ready-to-use therapeutic food. It is explicitly designed for weakened pets and does not harm the weakened digestive system.

With natural foods, the menu should be based on easily digestible products: the first day, you can give the animal only chicken broth and rice broth, gradually adding the grain itself. The introduction of fermented milk products and probiotics in the diet will protect the digestive system from constipation.

Weight gain of a dog on natural food

It is difficult to achieve the most favorable weight gain for a dog using the same croups or meat. Still, if they are appropriately combined with a suitable feeding scheme – everything is real. The owner only needs to select the most convenient, healthy ingredients for each four-legged friend’s meal.

Natural nutrition for the dog

Dog weight gain porridge

In the first days of dog recovery, it is best to prepare meat based on well-boiled rice, possibly broken by a blender in the mashed potato.

After about 2-3 days, oatmeal flakes are added to the rice, and a week later, you can include buckwheat in your diet. Wheat and eggplant cereals are better left until the complete recovery of the pet and strengthen his stomach.

In any case, porridge should be no more than 20-30% of the daily food volume for a depleted animal. The special menu’s central place is taken by well-boiled meat of nonfat varieties (e.g., chicken or rabbit) and steamed vegetables. It is allowed for older and small pets to cook food in mashed potatoes, mixing porridge, meat, and vegetables.

What you should not feed the dog

Many owners are trying to normalize the state of exhausted dogs, including in their diet fatty foods and high-calorie meals, without thinking about the difficulty of digesting them by the pet’s digestive system.

Pork, lamb, and domestic fatty chicken may well cause constipation and liver problems, so it is better to give a weakened animal turkey, beef, veal, and rabbit.

The exact component for the fattening period should be meat, not by-products that contain much less protein. As soon as the pet starts to recover, as an exception, the introduction of pate from boiled beef liver and vegetables is allowed (it can be done at home).

Please remember about dog diseases for humans

As for healthy dogs, prohibited foods, which can not be introduced into the diet under any pretext, were and still are:

  • smoked food (even if it is meat);
  • raw pork and fish;
  • flour and sweet products, especially chocolate;
  • pulses;
  • bones in any form;
  • citrus fruits, raisins, and fresh grapes.

Suppose in the first weeks of therapeutic nutrition, the dog is interested in raw vegetables. In that case, they should not be given yet. Some healthy individuals with an average body weight enjoy eating raw carrots or even cucumbers. Still, for a weakened body, they can be dangerous products.

Regime and portion size

An increase in the caloric intake should be done gradually because a sharp load on a weakened stomach is dangerous for health: intestinal balance is disturbed, and diarrhea may appear.

First, the volume of the usual portion is increased by 10%. If the pet is feeling well already in 2-3 days, increase the daily caloric value of products by another 10%, continuing this process to the desired level of normal weight.

As soon as the dog’s daily weighing confirms the success of all actions, you can gradually reduce the number of calories in the food given to the dog.

By the way, Dachshunds can easily gain weight without your effort

On average, the exhausted animal is fed 6-8 times a day in small portions, but it is possible to reduce the frequency to 4-5 times a day in a week. In severe cases, the usual diet is replaced by intravenous infusion of nutritional solutions. Even a small amount of natural products or dry food can kill the animal.

correct portion size for the dog

Dry food dog weight gain

Special dry food lines for the weight gain of exhausted dogs are the best solution to the problem. The owner does not have to think about what products and how much to give to the dog. All you need is to simply calculate the daily weight of finished food according to the pet’s current state.

Among the most popular types of such therapeutic foods are the following versions of ready-made food mixtures:

  1. Royal Canin Gastro Intestinal Dog. Often used in the recovery period after illness and anorexia in dogs. It contains rice, the degenerative protein of poultry meat, egg powder, beet pulp, corn, animal fats. The components provide easy assimilation of ready meals without causing any adverse consequences of its use by the animal’s digestive system. The manufacturer produces dietary products for 20 different breeds, taking into account other dogs’ individual characteristics and their living conditions. One of the significant drawbacks of such food experts considers the high content of ingredients of plant origin.
  2. Britcare. This premium food’s main advantage is the high content of meat as a source of protein and rice as a source of carbohydrates. Compared to wheat and corn, it is much better digested and does not cause food allergies in dogs prone to it. Of the shortcomings of this food is a small amount of fiber (only 2.5%).
  3. Happy dog Supreme Sport. An excellent solution to a balanced diet, not only for sick and exhausted dogs but also for animals that face daily exercise. To replenish the energy wasted and improve the pet’s overall health, help poultry, rice flour, and corn present in the food. Aromatizers, food colorants, and preservatives, according to the manufacturer, are entirely absent. At the same time, he did not specify what kind of meat was used in the manufacture of this food, which, together with the high cost, is considered the main disadvantages of this option.
  4. Hill’s Science Plan. Compared with previous versions, this particular food’s undeniable advantages are considered low cost and high content of vitamins and minerals. However, the exact amount of meat is not reported. There are also concerns about corn and wheat as the main ingredients in a ready-made diet. As we know, these cereals are considered a severe allergen.

Important! You should not save on the health of your pet by buying cheap dry food from unknown companies. Ideally, you should choose a diet only after consulting with your vet, based on your dog’s current state.

What to do if the food is not digested?

In the initial stages of rehabilitation, exhausted dogs are not recommended to feed dry food. Optimum consistency of food – liquid or semi-liquid, because it is weakened stomach absorbs it best. Problems with the absorption of food usually occur when:

  • overfeeding the animal;
  • food intolerance to any of the ingredients in the food;
  • rapid swallowing of the proposed food;
  • food spoilage;
  • high cereal content and lack of meat in the composition;
  • wormy invasions.

The main sign of the problem is vomiting, digestive disorder, and the yield of almost the entire volume of food eaten. In severe cases, it is possible to increase body temperature. To improve a pet’s health, it will help revise its diet and replace the selected feed mixture with a lighter version.

Feeding the dog should be done in tiny pieces, preventing the air from being swallowed together with the food.

the dog is not hungry

Dose of dry food at dog weight gain

At first glance, everything seems to be very simple: for the dog to gain weight, you just need to increase the amount of food, especially since the packages with the finished product already have the manufacturer’s recommendations on this issue.

However, if, in some cases, you can just stick to the upper limits of the marked norm, then with a large deficit of weight, to this value is to add another 10-30%, distributing an additional amount of pellets between all feeds.

If the resulting amount of food for a particular animal is too much, you can simply replace the standard food mix with a more calorie product: food intended for growing puppies, pregnant or lactating bitches.

To correctly measure the appropriate amount of food, it is desirable to use a special measuring cup, often included with the food itself.

Important! By increasing the caloric value of food, do not limit your physical activity. In the first weeks after the start of treatment, the animal does not have much strength, but later it is useful to walk, swim, or even run.

Weight gain due to muscle mass growth

With each day of proper nutrition, the dog will gain weight, but whether it will turn into extra fat over time depends mostly on exercise with the dog. The growth of muscle mass provides better strength and endurance for the dog, making it active and cheerful.

This is especially true for sled dogs and security dogs, not to mention service breeds representatives. Special training will help to keep your pet in good shape.


To maintain the dog’s right physical shape, no extra effort on the part of the owner is required. The main thing is to pay enough attention to the pet during the next walk. The most useful exercises during the joint outdoor activities will be:

  1. Running. Running behind a bike or just a jog allows you to use all muscle groups, simultaneously activating better work of the dog’s internal organs.
  2. Swimming is a universal exercise that will keep absolutely any pet in good shape. It is best to use the dorsal muscles during swimming, although the paws’ load is no less noticeable.
  3. Jumping and overcoming barriers. In this case, the dog actively involves those muscles that were left without attention during previous exercises. The main point is that the obstacles should not be very high, and the surface is slippery. Otherwise, there is a risk of injury to the animal joints.
  4. Moving up and down the stairs. The development of leg muscles always plays a vital role in any animal’s life, improving the coordination of his movements. If the dog periodically climbs the stairs, it will strengthen the skeletal muscles and the whole musculoskeletal system.
Exercises for the dog

An additional type of physical activity can be considered games with fellow tribesmen, allowing to combine the dog’s pleasant pastime with the benefits for his body. The enthusiasm and increased activity of relatives awakens an unbridled desire for fun. At the same time, the performance of individual exercises at the command of the owner is not always well received by the animal.

Vitamins for dog weight gain

In addition to a properly formulated diet, particular vitamins can help exhausted dogs with weight gain. A pet’s body always needs nutrients, many of which are not contained in the usual pet food. Suppose the primary purpose is weight gain by increasing muscle mass (the most acceptable option). In that case, it is better to give preference to the following vitamin complexes:

  1. “Wolmar”. The preparation includes 18 amino acids, 12 vitamins, and minerals that benefit muscle cell growth. This vitamin supplement’s main task is to activate protein synthesis in muscle tissues, which allows increasing the total muscle mass, and thus the weight of an animal. Also, vitamins provide the dog’s body with the energy it needs at increased physical activity.
  2. “Protevit plus” – vitamins recommended to prevent metabolic disorders in the body. The preparation includes protein, potassium, magnesium, linoleic acid, vitamin C, K, a stimulant of protein metabolism. All these components have a beneficial effect on all processes in the dog body, increasing the pet’s efficiency and endurance.

As in the optimal version of the food mix, the ideal type of vitamin supplements for a particular dog can only advise a doctor, based on the condition of the pet and the presence of any related diseases.

The main mistakes when fattening a dog

With a competent approach to care for a depleted dog, its appearance and healthy weight can be restored within a few months without harming health. However, trying to feed the dogs, not all owners manage to avoid mistakes. The list of the most frequent ones is usually included:

  • overfeeding, due to no small amount of food (harmful if the dog is fasting for a long time);
  • using large amounts of low-calorie food instead of more productive high-calorie food;
  • Mixing dry food with natural products during one feeding;
  • trying to feed a weakened dog with dehydrated granules;
  • ignoring the health problems of the pet and trying to normalize his condition with a single review of the diet;
  • restricting the dog’s physical activity to increase his weight.
how to fatten up a dog

Any problem is more comfortable to solve through a comprehensive approach, so faced with the exhaustion of a four-legged friend, it is important not only to change his diet but also to organize a veterinary examination, excluding possible violations within the body from the list of causes of the poor condition of the pet.

It may take some time to get your dog back in good shape, but only with patience will you be able to ensure a long and happy life.

Questions and Answers

  1. Can dog eat rice everyday?

    Yes, you can. This is the second main cereal for dog diet after buckwheat. It is best to choose unfinished groats, brown or brown rice.

  2. Does pasta put weight on dogs?

    Macaroni can be given to dogs, but it is not recommended, as they are deprived of nutrients, therefore, there is no use for them, although if the purpose is to fill the stomach of the pet so that it does not starve, then the option is excellent. However, such goals are pursued by unscrupulous dog breeders who do not care much about their pets.

    The reaction of the dog's body is different, some dogs can eat noodles or horns daily, while others begin to have diarrhea, constipation, gas formation. It is not recommended to give pasta to dogs also because regular feeding with carbohydrate food puts pressure on the pancreas, which eventually leads to pancreatitis or diabetes, and increases the risk of obesity because the dog's stomach is unable to cope with large amounts of carbohydrates.

  3. What is the best dog food to fatten up a dog?

    The ideal proportion is a combination of proteins and carbohydrates. For example, porridge cooked on bone broth and with the addition of pieces of meat.

  4. Is peanut butter good for a dog?

    Experts agree that peanut butter is safe in moderate amounts for most dogs. Even better, because it is rich in protein and healthy fats, vitamins B and E and niacin, peanut butter can be both tasty and nutritious for your dog.

  5. Are bananas good for dogs?

    Dogs can eat bananas but in moderate amounts.

    Bananas, if they are served in excess, can cause constipation. In addition, dog owners should not feed them banana peels. Of course, bananas are not poisonous for dogs and the vast majority of other pets, but they are difficult to digest and can cause intestinal obstruction if consumed in large pieces or even as a whole.

  6. Is cheese good for dogs?

    The fact is that cheese is too fat and a salty product for the dog organism. The systematic use of the liver and pancreas may not cope with the load imposed on them. If a dog once ate a large piece of cheese, wait for diarrhea.

  7. Are eggs good for dogs?

    The frequency of feeding the dog eggs depends on the age and size of the animal. An adult, medium sized dog is recommended to give 1-2 chicken eggs per week. Quail eggs are smaller, so you can give them more often, for example, 1-2 times a week, 2 eggs at once, or one egg 2-4 times a week. Goose and duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs, so you should give them less.

Tags: dog, dog health, dog care, dog nutrition, weight gain for the dog

Article by Stanley Harrison

Article by Stanley Harrison – a passionate cat lover, always ready to share his experience with readers. Happy owner of two cats – Chloe and Leo, a dog Rocky and a parrot Tweety

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