How to gain weight without over-feeding?

Our 18 month GSD is consistently slightly under-weight by approx 5kg. He’s very stable at 35kg and we think 40kg would be about right for his build and ancestry (sire and dam were both very large build)

We’ve tried various very high quality (high protein ratio) dried foods and none seem to put the weight on him. We’re currently on Eden. We feed him 3 times daily rather than 2 as we were told that if feeding above recommended levels this will help digestion. However if I increase the quantity his motions become very soft and still no weight gain, presumably because the increased quantity is not being properly digested.

His energy and activity levels are well above average for the breed. In every way he is extremely happy and healthy, apart from being slightly underweight and with a tendency to loose stools.

The vet has given him blood and fecal tests with no adverse results, and we’ve also tried exclusion diets without discovering any evidence of intolerance.

Should I increase quantity of kibble by another 10% even though this appears not to be properly digested and loosens motions? Should I try substituting say 20% of his food with some “poor quality” (high carb) but grain-free food as a supplement? Should I add fats/oils to his kibble? Should I just accept I have a scrawny, bony dog as he’s happy and healthy in all other respects?

Any advice would be much appreciated as the vet has run out of ideas. Thanks.

I don’t have experience of encouraging weight gain - it is usually the opposite with my dogs. I am therefore not sure whether I can be of much help. Fat has the most calories 9 per gram, followed by protein and carbs, 4 per gram. Eden has high fat and protein. Carbs are on the low side of average so I am wondering if it might help to keep him on the RDA of Eden and give him supplementary carbs. I say this because I have read of dogs having loose poo with high protein dry food. It is a case of getting the amount just right for the dog’s digestion.

The good carbs are brown rice (well cooked) and sweet potato. However, I would recommend that you speak to Eden about this - they may recommend something different.

You haven’t mentioned activity levels. Are you someone who takes your dog for long walks? If so, perhaps you could cut down the exercise and teach your dog to be calm and to rest. Lots of people think it is good for dogs to get loads of exercise but they are creating a super athlete who needs a ‘fix’ every day. Much better to have a calm, contented dog but calmness does sometimes have to be taught.

Thanks Dottie. Yes Bentley is very active, usually getting 3 walks/runs per day totalling around 2 hours +/- (including a 10k run with me 3 times a week). Teaching him calmness is a challenge! He’s a pretty full-on lad and constantly craves stimulation and attention (that’s shepherds for you). 15 mins rest is quite enough before he comes and attacks me again! You say it’s good to have a “calm, contented dog” but I’m afraid he’s not usually contented when he’s encouraged to be calm. He’s never going to be a golden retriever, but maybe I need to be a bit stricter with myself about ignoring him and making him lie quietly. Having said that we both enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle so I don’t want to change that too much.

Thanks for the suggestion of carb sources. I know fats and oils are usually a better source of calories but I’m not sure what type to give without causing upset? I’ve also been told that canned pumpkin puree can be good for firming up loose motions, so we’ve just bought 12 cans and are about to try mixing that in with his kibble, but I’m not sure if that’s also going to give him the extra carbs for weight gain.

I did originally talk to Eden when Bentley was younger via their facebook advice group. They were quite keen for me to stick to recommended feeding quantities + max 10%, which resulted in weight loss. However you’re right that when I went against their advice and increased quantity his motions became very loose. To be honest I didn’t find Eden’s guidance very useful back then, but I’ll take your advice and try them again now. Thanks again for the input :smiley:

That is an awful lot of exercise and it’s not surprising that he is burning off the calories. TBH with that amount of activity putting weight on him is going to be a struggle whatever you feed. It sounds as if you are happy with the current situation regarding activity levels, not least because they match your own requirements. If you feel that your dog is becoming too demanding then the logical thing is to see a behaviourist. The pumpkin purée will hopefully help your dog.

Hello and welcome to the forum. I am not an expert but can share my personal experience. I have found with some foods that my dog will be eliminating more and will loose weight. As you say, I don’t expect feeding more would have solved the problem. When I did that with the last food I tried, she was waking me early because she needed to go to the toilet. I have found that cold pressed food generally results in stable weight and solid stools, except fourthglade which doesn’t seem to agree with my dog as much as others. I changed to raw because at one time there wasn’t much choice of cold pressed foods and they all came in bags too big for my needs. I was happy with nutriment raw but decided to change as the black plastic cartons are not being recycled in the UK yet. I tried a couple of different raw foods but they seemed to go through her quickly. Stools weren’t soft just frequent and my dog seemed hungry and started eating earth and other stuff. I am now feeding naturaw which has reduced the amount of stools, they are still firm but not too hard. The weight is creeping up to so I will have to reduce portions a bit now and monitor. Nutriment sometimes made her a bit constipated as stools were very hard but small and two a day. A little veg added to her meals solved this issue. I don’t know if you have considered raw but there a a few things to consider, like if you have freezer space or vulnerable people in the house and the hygiene measures needed to reduce any risks.

I would agree that increasing the current food would probably just cause more problems with digestion. Eden do say that loose stools indicate over feeding.

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I have a Red setter who has the same problems, he is now 4, and is still on the skinny side. :slight_smile:
I found over the 4 years I have had him that dried kibble did not work for him, the more I gave him to help him put on more weight, the more the stools got loose and he was still hungry. ::slight_smile:
What to do, a very unhappy hungry dog who could not think about anything else. I put him on a food a called pure , a dehydrated food that you make up with warm water. He was a good food , but Copper still was thin. 20kgs.
There was nothing else to do but be brave and put him on raw. He did put on a but of weight but he was dealing with raw vegetables.
So I tried a company called butternut box, which is a cooked meal and vegetables, he did not put on weight to start with, so I increased the amount slowly and after a while he was on 900g per day,he is now putting on weight, slowly but he is not really digesting the vegetables, they come out as they went in, and I could not afford the every expensive bills. He is a dog with a sensitive tummy , and I have now learnt that he has a very high metabolic rate.
I have now found out that when you feed raw you do not have to always feed vegetables at every meal. So he is now from Sunday going back to raw and having one meal with meat and one meal with vegetables.
I have also tried to limit his running off lead as he is very energetic and will take off like a rocket, running after deer is his favourite.
I get very fed up with people saying that your dog is very thin and almost thinking that he is not being fed enough , but one day I hope that he will put on weight. I hope that you can help you dog put on weight. He is very handsome.
For people thinking that I have changed Coppers food a lot, sadly one dog food does not suit all and sometimes you have a real job trying to find something that suits. It has been a real eye opener and a lot of research has gone on.

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