underweight dog

I have an underweight dog, how can I help him?

Why won’t my dog gain weight?

A quick Google search for dog weight articles will throw up results that talk about ensuring your dog doesn’t gain excessive weight or doesn’t become obese. But what if your issue is an underweight dog? The easiest solution of course is to feed the dog more food, but how do you do this safely and more importantly, how do you do this effectively? "I know what you're thinking, 'my dog is just always hungry.' You might also be wondering why your dog isn't gaining weight. Well, it could be because they are eating the wrong foods"
  • What's a good food for my pet?
  • How do I stop my pet from eating table scraps?
  • What else can I feed my pet besides kibble or canned food?
Read on to learn a few tips and tricks to make your furry friend gain weight safely.

4 sure shot ways your dog can gain weight

1. Opt for a higher calorie food

Imagine your dog were an athletic canine. Those dogs are fed more calories just so that they can maintain their weight. If your dog is moderately active or even mostly sedentary, a high calorie diet will actually help him put on the much-needed weight.

2. Use wet or fresh foods

Could your dog be bored of kibble? Try offering fresh or wet food as these have a stronger scent and will be more appealing. However, do keep in mind that fresh food should be consumed quickly else it could spoil. Open and unfinished food needs to be refrigerated. If your dog isn’t keen on cold food, consider offering something that can be served warm.

3. Feed more throughout the day

Offer your dog more, but smaller, meals through the day. Or even consider free feeding. Your dog will thus get an opportunity to eat throughout the day and end up consuming more calories. Generally free feeding is not encouraged as it can lead to weight gain, but since that is the objective here, it’s perfectly ok.

4. Switch meals with snacks

If your dog gets fussy during meal times, you can think about adding some supplemental food made with fatty and protein-rich meat sources. These foods are usually meant for supplemental feeding and are not a substitute for your dog’s regular meal. Do have a word with your vet about supplements and vitamins that you can add to the dog’s food. Now that you know a few tricks on how to make your dog gain weight, let’s try and understand why your dog might be underweight.

Could these be the reasons your dog is underweight?

Picky eater

Some dogs are just picky eaters, which makes it quite a task to get them to eat enough. Do you feed dry kibble? Topping the bowl with wet or fresh food might just do the trick and your dog might start to enjoy mealtimes more. Have you considered some of the BARF India recipes? We have a range of foods for you to choose from, from chicken to mutton, and even buffalo. You can also consider adding some homemade bone broth to enhance the flavour of the food.


Could your dog be stressed? Just like with people, dogs with stress could lose their appetite and that can lead to weight loss. To tackle that, you must learn to manage your pup’s stress first, which starts with figuring out the cause. Perhaps it’s a change in schedule, or maybe you suddenly have too many people hanging around the house, or it could be something outside that’stroubling him, like construction work or other distractions. Talk to your vet or trainer to understand if your dog is stressed and find ways to help them overcome it.


Loss of weight can also be an indicator of an underlying illness, such as cancer. If there’s a tumour in the oesophagus, lungs or stomach, your dog could have trouble eating or keeping weight on. We don’t wish to frighten you, but you might want to consider getting your dog checked out by the vet to eliminate illness as a cause. This is especially true if your dog has fever or vomiting along with the lack of appetite and weight loss.

Old age

As dogs get older, their body starts to display age-related issues. Some of these could even come in the way of your dog putting on weight. Tooth decay or oral pain could make chewing difficult for your dog and thus they eat less. Look for soft, wet food that is specially formulated for older pups in order to help them maintain their weight while getting the right nutrition.

Adopted from the street or a shelter

If your dog has been recently adopted from the street or a shelter, it might have a history of neglect or abuse. The dog could thus be underweight or malnourished because of that. Talk to the people you adopt the dog from and get as much information as you can. Get your vet to also check the dog thoroughly and suggest a food plan to nurse your dog to health. This will take time and patience.


A healthy dog is a happy dog. Whether overweight or underweight, a dog that is not at its optimal weight could have health issues. Also, if not well-nourished, an underweight dog will lack energy to lead a happy life. Make sure your dog is the right weight and watch run and play all day long. If you're wondering how to feed your dog and what foods are best for them, we can help! Contact us today if you have a specific question about food options or want some advice on creating the perfect diet plan. We'll also be happy to answer any questions that come up about nutrition in general. What other types of foods do dogs like? What should I feed my overweight pet? How often should I change their food type? Get answers from our experts today by contacting us at customercare@barfindia.com