How to Help Your Dog Gain Weight the Healthy Way


When it comes to our four-legged friends, it’s important that we treat our dog’s health as seriously as our own. Something you’ll want to help your dog with is maintaining a healthy weight.

An overweight or underweight dog can both face troublesome issues. On one hand, the American Heart Association warns that dogs who carry too many extra pounds can carry an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, and other health conditions. But being underweight can be equally dangerous. A gaunt dog could, for example, be a sign of an underlying illness or health condition — such as tooth pain or gastrointestinal issues — or an effect of aging or stress.

If you consult with your vet and find that your dog needs to put weight on to be in the healthier range, there are safe ways to go about it. In this guide, we’ll discuss what it means for your dog to be underweight and offer safe ways to add extra calories to their diet. The goal is to help them gain lean, muscular healthy weight so they avoid additional health issues.

Signs Your Dog Is Too Skinny

If you are concerned about your dog’s weight, especially if they have dropped pounds suddenly, the best place to start is to take them to the veterinarian or a certified pet nutritionist for an examination or counseling.

Vets often employ either a five- or nine-point scale to assess a dog’s weight; the lowest rating shows that the dog is near starving and the highest rating shows extreme obesity. Below are some of the signs that your dog is too skinny: 

  • Ribs are visible with just skin (rather than soft tissue) covering the bones
  • Shoulder bones, hips, spine, and base of the tail are easy to find, with little or no covering of fat
  • Viewing your dog from overhead, you see that there is a pronounced curve between the ribs and hips, and the spine or rib bones are visible.
  • When you look at your dog from the side, you observe a sharp rise in the abdomen from ribs to hips (this may be more natural for greyhounds but less so for other breeds). A gentle, gradual rise is healthier. 

When assessing your dog’s body weight, remember that you also have to keep in mind its breed and body shape — the profiles of a greyhound and a bulldog, for instance, are meant to be quite different.

Lastly, try using the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Body Condition Score for Dogs to get an idea if your dog is over- or underweight.

5 Tips to Help Your Dog Gain Weight Safely

If you need to help your dog gain weight, here are a few ways to ensure they get where they need to be in the healthiest way possible.

German Shepherd Running

Give Your Dog More Exercise

Although suggesting your dog get more exercise may seem counterintuitive, the truth is regular exercise is important to a dog’s physical and mental health. Whether you have a collie or a pit bull, providing solid outdoor time to help your dog stretch its legs can help them maintain their ideal weight. A good walk or run helps to build an appetite, which is especially important if your dog is a picky eater. 

Feed Them More Frequently

If your dog isn’t eating enough, consider feeding them more frequently. This doesn’t mean providing food for them all day long, but rather adding another regularly scheduled meal to the plan, or even a few small meals. 

Between meals, it’s OK to give them the occasional snack — not human food or unhealthy options, but an all-natural, high-quality dog treat full of vitamins, minerals, and flavor. Bully Max Training Chews for Muscle Gain can be provided as treats or added to regular meals to make up for any lack in a dog’s diet. Also check out our new Classic Premium Beef Dog Treats, and Classic Premium Chicken Dog Treats.

Formulated by veterinarians, the Training Chews are an all-natural quality food that builds long-lasting muscles, provides 10 grams of raw protein in a single serving (two chews), and won’t alter your dog’s mood or behavior.

Be Consistent When It Comes to Picky Eaters

An underweight dog could also be the result of a picky eater. Besides giving them more exercise to build up their appetites, some best practices for dog owners include:

  • Control who they dine with: If you eat at the same time as your dog, they may be too distracted by the delicious smells of human food to eat their own. If you have other pets who eat at the same time, they might be “bullying” the skinny dog away from their food or otherwise distracting them.
  • Be strict about mealtimes: Dogs are creatures of habit, so feed them at set times every day. Give them their food; that’s what they should eat (don’t try to tempt them with other types of food if they are reluctant). After the meal has been left out for roughly 30 minutes, take away any remaining food so your dog learns that they will need to eat within this time frame.
  • Practice consistency: While it’s fine to give an underweight dog more than one meal a day and healthy snacks, you shouldn’t spend all of your time trying to get them to eat or switching dog foods or the amount of food until you find something they like. Consistency will ensure that your picky eater adopts the habits of a healthy dog. 

Store Food Properly 

Almost as important as what you feed your dogs is how you feed them. Besides feeding dogs too much or too little dry food or canned food, a common mistake includes storing your dog food incorrectly so it goes stale or loses its nutritional content. Dog food and puppy food containers are designed to keep the food fresh and nutritious, whereas a separate storage container may not. If you want to use one, keep the food in the bag and then place it in the other container.

It’s also a bad idea to mix different kinds of dog food, or even two lines of dog food from the same brand. Different dog foods have different formulations and may be digested differently. Mixing two types of food may cause an upset stomach or gastrointestinal issues, or the bacteria and germs that could exist in one bag of food might be transferred to a bag of new food.

Provide More Calories, but Do So Wisely

Pitbull dog sitting

If a dog isn’t getting enough calories in its meals, then the solution is obvious: Give them more high-calorie food. Adding calories to a meal needs to be done wisely, however, as simply giving them a lot more food per serving may make them overeat and get sick.

The number of calories in a dog’s food can vary widely, from only 200 calories to 600 per cup. With Bully Max 30/20 High Performance Dog Food, for example, you get 535 calories per cup with premium ingredients and a meat-based formula (the only one in its class) that is 100% natural, with 30% proteins and 20% fat.

The Bully Max 31/25 Ultra Performance Dog Food boasts even more calories (600 per cup) and the same meat-based formula designed to build muscle mass and maintain a healthy weight. You will be able to feed your dog with 60% less food than other brands that are stretched out with fillers, starches, artificial flavors, and other ingredients that can leave dogs bloated, fatigued, and uncomfortable. Our calorie-dense, vet-approved formulations are easy on the stomach (they won’t cause digestive issues) and give underweight and performance dogs the calories and nutrition they need without overeating.

The Safe Way to Build Your Dog’s Body Mass

If you want to bulk up your dog safely and effectively — adding muscle, mass, and size — turn to the solutions developed by veterinarians and used by champion breeders, K9 units, and discriminating dog owners everywhere.

The Bully Max line of high-performance, high-protein dog foods and muscle-building nutrition supplements can improve your dog’s overall health and energy and add the weight they need for their peak health performance.

Our all-natural brand is backed by a money-back guarantee. Get the results you want for your dog or we will provide a 100% refund within 30 days.


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