How should you feed a dog that needs to gain weight?

Hello all. I have been using this great website recently to improve my dogs diet, and have found it invaluable. I have discovered brands of food that I would never have come across otherwise, that are far better in quality than I used to feed.

My dog, Alfie, is a lovely 10 year old greyhound, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be owned by him! He’s really friendly, sweet and very happy, and loves everyone, person or dog. He’s got a great personality and makes me smile. He’s pretty much the perfect dog to “own”, as greyhounds generally are. Luckily he seems to be in really good health for his age, and behaves like a much younger dog. He has plenty of energy for an elderly greyhound, and loves his walks (and loves rides in the car even more). I can’t recommend retired greyhounds enough, they’re so sweet, gentle, loving, lazy and easy-going. He’s the fourth one I’ve had, that’s how much I love them. Also there are unfortunately so many looking for homes, so you’re spoilt for choice at greyhound rehoming kennels.

Unlike most people who have dogs, my problem is keeping weight on him. I have tried about 14 brands/varieties of dog food, so no-one can say I haven’t tried. The other problem is that the vast majority of dog foods cause him to poo a lot, and it is pretty soft so difficult to pick up.

I have realised that chicken doesn’t suit him, as his poo is worst on chicken based food. He is better on lamb or salmon, and rice and oats seem to suit him better than corn. I have avoided foods which contain wheat, as I know that’s not good. I was feeding him on Skinners Field and Trial Salmon and Rice, and this was one of the best for him, both in maintaining his weight, and in terms of what comes out the other end. In time though, after reading about how important high meat content is, and grains not being good for dogs, I wanted to change him onto something of better quality.

I found Millies Wolfheart through this site, and am very impressed by the quality of ingredients in their food, and the price seems to be about the best for this calibre of food. I contacted them and was advised to avoid turkey based food, as because it comes from the same group as chicken, he is probably sensitive to turkey too. They also told me to go for one of their mixes that is higher in carbs to help him put on weight, in their 50/50 range. I chose the Gundog Mix which has trout, lamb and white fish as the sources of protein. It’s £38 for 12kg, so quite reasonable value. I have a slight reservation though that the level of protein should be a bit higher than in this variety, having read on here about the importance of high protein. I thought I might buy one of their higher protein mixes to add to the Gundog Mix. He’s been having it for a week or two, and really loves it. He is producing a fair bit less poo, as I hoped he would.

I was wondering whether there is anything else I can do to put weight on him, as he lost a couple of kilos on the previous food I tried. Would it help to add some oil to the food, such as olive oil, or is vegetable oil not a good idea? I read somewhere that lard should help, but as (I think) it comes from beef, I would imagine that it might not be good as many dogs are sensitive to beef.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I wanted to add all the relevant info.

Many thanks in advance for your help.

Alfie sounds wonderful you’ve quite made me want a greyhound myself, not only have I never owned one, I’ve met very few.

I personally wouldn’t add vegetable oil to a dog’s food, but salmon oil could be worth a try - many people do add it to improve coat condition, and Fish4Dogs sell a good quality one on their website.

One thing I have added in the past to help with weight gain is eggs, either raw or scrambled are fine, and most dogs love them. Adding eggs would, of course, increase the protein too.

Hopefully someone else will be along with more suggestions.

1 Like

Hi I feed Millies ranger mix also a new one to Millies Brand.
As you have just started feeding a new food would it be best to see how you go weight wise before adding things to the diet? I have a dog with an actual allergy to chicken puffy face legs and has to have meds incase of a reaction. My dog can tolerate turkey so go figure?
when I spoke to mark the owner he suggested not mixing the food till my dog was settled and showing steady weight gain which she is now so i dont see point in messing the balance up, as she is happy and me too.
Id not rush weight gain should be slow and steady.
I was a pain calling and emailing Millies but they had great patience with me so maybe a call with them would help you
good luck
Lou xx

Hello and welcome to the forum. It’s good that you have found that Millie’s Wolfheart is giving your Greyhound a better quality of life. With my three I find it is the higher fat foods that add weight and that is why I cannot really use some of the the newer, high protein foods unless I give tiny portions. That is why I am thinking that your idea of mixing some of the MW higher protein food into your existing one sounds good and I am wondering if that is all you might need to do. However, Louise has experience with this product and it wouldn’t hurt to stick just with the present regime for a week or two more. After that, if you are not happy with the weight gain then have a word with the rep to run this idea of mixing the food by them. You didn’t say how many meals you are giving him each day but would it help to increase it to three? I know that most folk give two meals a day but it doesn’t hurt to split it up, especially if it means he can take a bit more in quantity that way.

Having said that, I agree with the scrambled eggs as a treat. I used to give the Fish4Dogs salmon oil to a couple of mine (for skin problems). I tend to give sardines twice a week now instead (as a topper). The ones in oil might be good for him. I use the tomato sauce type because mine put weight on too easily. In the past, David (the owner of this site) has suggested adding a little well cooked brown rice or porridge oats for a bit of extra bulk but not sure if this would be helpful in your case. Some people say it is carbohydrates that add the weight but tbh I have found that it is the high protein and fat. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to believe. ???

In the past I’ve had good results from adding green tripe to kibble when I’ve had dogs needing to gain weight. Mine all love it (I use the Natural Instinct one) but this lot rarely get it as they have the opposite problem and need to shift a bit of weight. I agree its well worth phoning and having a chat with Mark at Millies - they are extremely helpful.

A quick scan through Wolfheart website and they make a point of saying ‘no chicken or eggs’ in their food, also that, initially the dog will lose ‘weight’ due to the dog using the carbs until it switches to processing the higher protein (I think I’m reading that right).
We have used both tripe and eggs for weight gain. As to supplements, hold back on them until you see the benefits of a good food and if you feel you need them then look for salmon oil, flax oil or starflower oils - but look for quality ones

I would agree with other comments about waiting until they are fully settled on the new food. to achieve weight gain simply increase the daily food ration by 10% and monitor after a week, increase again if required until a good rate of weight gain is achieved. once at the correct weight cut back slightly to maintain the weight.

Weight loss is simply the reverse, cut the food back by 10% at a time,

The source of the calories in the food shouldn’t matter, provided it is easily digestible, you simly increase/decrease total calorie intake as required (and remember, if you change exercise levels that will require a tweak in food amounts too

Thanks very much for the welcome, and for all the advice, which is very helpful. There’s plenty of food for thought there (no pun intended). ;D I will stick with the bag of food I have for the time being, and hope it will help with his weight gain. Mark at Millies Wolfheart was very helpful when I rang for advice on which of their range to try, and I guess I just need to be patient. There are plenty of varieties to choose from - about 14, so I will try a few different ones as I think variety is good for dogs as well as us, and less boring than eating the same thing all the time.

I like the idea of adding scrambled egg to his food, but am not sure whether they might cause problems as they obviously come from chickens, and Alfie’s sensitive to it. Does anyone know if this is the case?

I do sometimes give him tinned pilchards, which he loves, and will try giving them to him regularly. A large tin is great value at just over £1 too. :slight_smile: They must be one of the cheapest sources of good quality protein.

As I foster for Many Tears, we see a lot of skinny dogs who need fattening. This is opposite to most pets, dog obesity is as prevalent as human and many manufacturers will be taking this onboard. When you factor in high energy and or delicate tummy it can be tricky. My one rule is not to do it quickly, particularly witha starved rescue, piling in carbohydrates won’t build the muscle that is needed. It can be embarrassing walking out with a thin dog as people have the wrong picture in their heads of a healthy weight dog. The horsey feed world offer diets for chunky ponies and high energy arabs as well as for keeping weight on older ones but dog food doesn’t seem as helpful.

Just an update on how Alfies weight gain etc is going.

He’s been on the Millies Wolfheart Gundog Mix for about a month now, and I’m very pleased with the results. I think he has gained a little weight, as his spine and hipbones have a bit more of a covering, His “output” has also improved as it has decreased in quantity and is firmer. I have been mixing in some remaining cheaper food containing maize until it is used up, so hopefully once he is purely on Millies, the improvement should be even greater.

I’m really pleased that this food suits him, and he absolutely loves it; I’ve never seen him so enthusiastic about his meals before. He’s not a particularly fussy eater, but when he’s not very keen on a food, he lets me know! Millies do lots of different varieties (14 in all), all of which are free from cereals and grains. The source of carbs is potato and sweet potato. With so many different meat/fish combinations, I think there should be something to suit almost every dog. It’s nice to have so many to choose from as I don’t like to feed a dog the same thing constantly, as I think it must get very boring.

So all in all, a happy dog and owner. I’d never have found Millies without this website, so thanks very much David for all the work you put into it; it’s a fantastic resource that is much appreciated.

Good news that you found a food that is doing the job you want it to.