5 Essential Tips on How To Fatten Up a Dog

Do you have a dog that needs to be fattened up? There are several reasons that you dog might be too skinny and need to gain some weight.

If your dog recently came to you from a shelter or rescue they might be severely malnourished, for example. Other things that could cause a dog to be underweight include stress, poor quality food, or illness (anything from parasites, diabetes and intestinal problems to cancer).

Fattening up a dog isn’t too hard but it needs to be done right or you could inadvertently cause other problems, including accidentally making your dog become overweight which involves a whole other set of potential health problems.

Thin Dog

So, how do I safely fatten up my dog?

Here are 5 easy steps to follow if you need to fatten up your dog:

1. How to Tell if a Dog is Too Thin

Before you start you should make sure that your dog in fact does need to gain weight. Does your dog seem weak, malnourished, or lethargic? Are your dog’s bones sticking out?

It can be hard for owners to know sometimes if a dog is at the right weight. For this you can go by breed information and size, especially if you are not familiar with the dog yet. Another good indicator is that you shouldn’t be able to clearly see your dog’s rib bones but you should be able to feel them a little – this indicates that the dog is at a healthy weight.

2. Take Your Dog to the Vet

If you conclude that your dog is in fact way too thin, don’t start feeding your pup fattening food just yet. Since your dog’s weight problems could be caused by an underlying health issue, you should take them to the vet first to rule out any physical reasons for their low weight.

A vet will be able to diagnose any illnesses (I recall how helpful my vet was with my Syrian Hamster, a very delicate creature but prone to illnesses and had to closely monitor him around my other furry children), AND they are also qualified to help you put together a diet plan for your dog and can help you properly monitor your progress. If your dog simply has been underfed or malnourished, a vet may prescribe supplements or other products to help your dog regain its health in a safe way.

3. Come up with a Dietary Regimen

During your visit, a vet may recommend a specific course of action for fattening up your dog. If not, you have several options available to you. Just remember to always proceed with caution and don’t overdo it; a patient approach is best.

Overfeeding a dog that has been malnourished or starved can cause a lot of problems, like refeeding syndrome, so you need to start gradually. Refeeding syndrome occurs when an animal that has been eating too little is fed more all of a sudden and there is a big shift in their electrolytes. This can lead to dangerous hormone and metabolic changes.

Here is a great and real quick video with an easy recipe from dog trainer Toni Drugmand that should fatten up a skinny dog quite quickly!

You also don’t want to fatten up your dog too much because that isn’t healthy either, so when trying to make a dog gain weight portioning that is appropriate for a dog’s size is still important.

Dogs should be encouraged to gain weight slowly, so that it stays on and makes it easy for dogs to go back to a regular diet afterwards.

To fatten up your dog you can feed them:

  • Premium dog quality food with high levels of fat and protein like Eagle Pack for large breeds and Wellness Core for small breeds.
  • Puppy food like Taste of the Wild, which is naturally higher in fat and protein to help dogs grow. This can be used in adult dogs that need to put on weight, but should not be used permanently once the dog has returned to a healthy size.
  • Satin balls (see recipe in video below)
  • Certain people food, like pasta, low-salt chicken broth to moisten dry food and make it more palatable for picky dogs, and things like peanut butter in small amounts can help picky dogs gain weight.

For the satin ball recipe for dogs, watch expert Jenn Fadal go through the recipe step by step.

4. Monitor Your Progress

To make sure that what you are doing is working and ensure that your dog doesn’t put on too much weight, you should establish goals in increments and measure your progress.

Note what you are feeding your dog each week and record their weight or measurements to keep track of the speed of your progress. This can also help you nail down what works and what doesn’t in trickier cases.

5. Maintain Your Dog’s Weight

Once your dog has reached a healthy weight, your job is not over. Now you need to maintain that weight through proper diet and exercise. If you had your dog on a puppy food or were using human food to fatten them up, gradually return them to a diet of high quality dog food with meat as the first ingredient and make sure that you feed them treats and other food in moderation.

Exercise should also be a component to helping your dog stay healthy and maintain a good weight.


Dogs can be too skinny for several reasons, whether you have just taken them in or you have had them since they were a puppy. In these cases, it is important to rule out any underlying medical conditions before trying to make your dog gain weight by consulting with a vet.

Follow your vet’s instructions to help your dog slowly get back to normal. Next, get your dog on a high-quality dog food to ensure that your dog maintains a healthy weight and is getting the proper nutrients that it needs to thrive.

Do you have any useful tips on how to fatten up a thin dog safely? Share your thoughts and experiences.

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