If your dog appears thinner than average for its breed and build, it may be suffering from a health problem such as intestinal worms, thyroid disease or cancer. For this reason, it is important to consult a veterinarian if your dog is persistently underweight. An underweight dog will have highly visible ribs and an exaggerated waist when seen from above. Regardless of the cause of your dog's thin appearance, high-quality foods are essential for enabling it to gain weight.
Dry Dog Foods
Dry dog foods are a popular and inexpensive form of pet food, and they can help keep a dog's teeth and gums clean and healthy. Some dry dog food formulas are designed specifically to meet the high calorie needs of pregnant, nursing, active or underweight dogs. Nutro Natural Choice High-Energy dog food is one good option, and it contains added nutrients for joint health. Hill's Science Diet Adult High-Energy dog food is another widely recommended option for dog weight gain.
Wet Dog Foods
Canned dog foods generally contain more meat and natural fats than dry dog foods, and some pets prefer the taste. While you attempt to enable your dog's weight gain, a combination of wet and dry foods can help to stimulate its appetite and provide a varied source of calories. Iams Veterinary Formula Maximum Calorie canned food is a particularly dense formula available through your dog's veterinarian. In general, it is reserved for severely underweight dogs.
Treats and Supplements
Between meals, high-calorie treats and supplements may help your pet increase its caloric intake. Seek high-quality treats made with real animal fats, peanut butter and meat. Supplements such as Mark & Chappell Nurish-UM Paste for Dogs can be spread on treats to increase their caloric and nutritive value. Look into a high-quality multivitamin or dog gravy to further increase nutritive gains. However, bear in mind that too many treats can make your dog feel overly full, so it misses out on the key nutrients found in balanced dog foods.
When given cautiously and in moderation, some human-grade foods can whet your skinny dog's appetite and help it gain weight. Boneless, unseasoned meats, unsweetened peanut butter and raw carrots are a few good choices as occasional, supplemental treats. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises dog owners to avoid feeding their pets chocolate, coffee, alcohol, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, grapes, raw meats, xylitol, onions, garlic, milk or large amounts of salt. Talk to your dog's veterinarian for specific advice regarding safe and unsafe human foods.