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Jan 3, 2013 10:11 AM

Food to help your dog GAIN weight.

We are adopting a rescue dog who is extremely thin. He is an adult Treeing Walker Coonhound. We know that he had a collar on when he was picked up, but his owners did not want him. The poor guy has been so freaked out by being at a shelter that he is just wasting away. His ribs are clearly visible in his photos. The rescue group said he is depressed and doesn't wag his tail. He has been checked by a vet and is considered otherwise healthy.

We will be meeting him for the first time and want to do everything I can to get him healthy and happy ASAP. I'm planning on cooking some ground beef so that he smells that as soon as he walks in the house. (I was thinking that is the doggy equivalent of us smelling cinnamon buns or chocolate chip cookies)

I know from reading about this breed that they like to graze. So, I was thinking to try starting him off with dog food plus rice and lean ground beef in small quantities several times a day.

I'm wondering if you have any suggestions of how to add calories without upsetting his stomach. He is coming from the South and I can only imagine that the stress has had a big impact on his digestive system.

Thank you for any suggestions and Happy New Year

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  1. Aw, how great that you're giving him a new chance. I have two rescue dogs. One has no issues gaining weight but the other was sick and needed to put on a few pounds. I incorporated a tablespoon of cottage cheese in his meals, along with mashed butternut squash, fish oil, and chopped chicken liver. These all appealed to his doggie taste buds and he gobbled up his food happily. He also got an occasional cube of cheese when we were cooking.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tcamp

      Yes! Full fat cottage cheese if he loves it---great not. And chicken liver, little treaties of that. Heck, I love those too. Cheese cubes are great for hiding pills, too.

    2. Daisy! We have a Treeing Walking Coonhound too--he's a senior citizen now and lovin' life! He too was from the South. If dogs are unwanted or "don't hunt", they're often disposed of/maltreated.

      Walker Hounds have what our vet calls a "wasp waist" naturally, so they always look lean, even when the perfect weight (vet said she wanted Ben to be around 50 pounds, but individual builds vary, so yours might naturally run 5-10 lbs lighter or heavier).

      Your new boy might also have kennel/canine cough...Walkers are particularly susceptible. Watch for that, because even if vaccinated, symptoms can present weeks later. That surpresses appetite. Also, when he first goes to the vet, get a thorough dental exam. Hounds get cavities more than other breeds, though Ben's been good!

      Food: Ben is an omnivore. Introduce little bites to your guy. Ground beef/ rice is good for upset tummies or nervous tummies, but also try some plain chicken breast, too....they love it. Keep fresh water available in a place that will be "his" spot for water. Also, get some treats. No dog I've ever met doesn't love those freeze dried liver treats.

      You'll find, as he gets comfy in his new home, that he'll get curious about what you're eating! Ben likes berries, yams, carrots, apple...all meats, too.

      CONGRATULATIONS on the new baby! Walker hounds are cuddlers and lovers by nature, so if you have blankies/binkies he can burrow in, he'll like that, esp seeing as he's skin and bones now--a soft, warm surface will feel great!!!

      THANK YOU for saving his life!

      If you want to email me off the board, shoot me a line

      1. Scrambled eggs and rice.
        Most dogs love carrots as treats, but too many carrots at once may give your dog the trots.

        2 Replies
        1. re: prima

          our vet said to be careful with carrots, as they are also extremely high in sugar, and can aggravate blood-sugar issues.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Bruin loves them but, if given too many, they may come out the back end whole and undigested.

        2. I think your planned foods are good. Please don't go too far "fattening" him up. A Walker should be lean. The ones I had were extremely high drive dogs. i.e. when he gets back healthy he may roam a long, long, way if he gets loose.

          1. Good for you! Our rescue boy joins us in wishing you all much happiness and health.

            Our boy (a black lab) was skin and bones when we adopted him -- and he'd been on double rations at the shelter for a couple of months (no, I don't really want to know what he looked like when they took him in). He'd been pitched out on the street in February (during a very harsh winter) and had a raging headcold (I had to wipe his poor drippy nose for days)...that, with the obligatory sterilisation, meant we had a really pathetic pooch for a while.

            The vet told us to stick with the double rations...along with some egg, the odd bits of raw meat, and green beans (he loves his vegetables).

            His appetite began to return as his health improved...and most importantly, as he began to realize that this home was his forever and there were people here who loved him. Some of it will just take time, as it will take him time to trust you and to learn that this is his safe, warm, dry home, and you are his loving people.

            Today, that scrawny stray is a 52-kg (115-pound) hulk of a big black dog -- not fat, just a big, big boy -- with a thick silky coat, boundless energy, and an ornery streak a mile wide. We're not sure who's happier that he came into our lives.

            12 Replies
            1. re: sunshine842

              Im sorry this is so late but what exactly did you feed your dog to gain weight ? I adopted a black and white lab and she is skin and bones it hurts me to look at her and see her ribs and spine i really want her to live a healthy life. I tried giving her royal canine dry food (that the vet reccomended) from pet smart but she does not like it she only likes wet food but her vet said wet food/can food makes her teeth rot a lot more easier i dont know what to do please help me !!!!!

              1. re: jasminebxx

                how long have you had her? ask your vet to see if the wet food for now can be considered a 'stop-gap' measure until she's got a few pounds on her. or wet augmented with cheap uncooked beef soup bones or rawhide. (if she's indoor most of the day, rawhide or even rubber chew toys will give the jaw resistance that otherwise might be inflicted on chair legs).

                there's a difference between a temporary measure and a decision made forever. there will be a weaning process when you go to dry alone if she knows you'll crumble. get her to the good weight and then ease off until it's particular occasion I use extra cold weather as an excuse to bump up his bowl these days or if I've been torturing him by grilling meat outside. if they're hungry, they'll eat, our responsibility is to provide enough (more than enough for now?) too the best of our ability and knowledge. sure a child would eat ice cream all day if given the choice, but we don't do that.

                BTW it took me about 3 months of alternating meaty broth and rice in his kibble vs. regular before the ribs visually disappeared and about 6 before they weren't immediately palpable.

                and good for getting rescue!

                1. re: jasminebxx

                  actually, the shelter was feeding Royal Canin, and that's what we continued.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I'm not familiar with that brand (Royal Canine), but I do resort to the advice of vets, well, uhh except for this one guy around here who only likes cows (and he's very good with them but maybe it's a sly e.e. cummings joke - never underestimate hillbillies)

                    I just read the labels and go for high protein, low grain content. I get it at the regional farmer's cooperative and it has a better makeup than many regular commercials. now (retroactively) his coat is the topic of a 1982 song by Haysi Fantayzee.

                    1. re: hill food

                      Royal Canin is a French brand -- we were living in France when we rescued him, so it was kind of inevitable :)

                      It's a good-quality food, though.

                      He ended up on Hill's Light in France, and we continued with that when we returned...turns out that they're not the same formula, and it brought out a pretty gnarly grain sensitivity (losing a good portion of his coat, itchy seepy rash, nasty mess). We've switched him now to Rachel Ray Nutrish Zero Grain, which he seems to like and doesn't seem to irritate his skin. (it gets 4/5 stars on Dog Food Advisor, and it's available at the grocery, which makes life a little easier...)

                      Both he and his adopted brother (a mixed-breed we took when his family was transferred) seem to be doing well on it so far.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        eww, double shame of lost coat and now a Rachel Ray feed? what's next? rain booties?

                        just kidding, hey if it works and the other dogs don't make fun of them, go with it!

                        I had no idea she'd branched into pet food but it makes sense.

                        1. re: hill food

                          Whatever your opinions on RR, one way or another, she does seem to be quite the dog lover and proceeds from the pet food line benefit animal rescue charities.

                          1. re: pamf

                            I only have issues with the media personality, not the person.

                          2. re: hill food

                            Oh, he was a mess -- his butt was completely naked last summer until we figured out what was going on and got it corrected. Poor guy.

                            The Rachel Ray Zero Grain actually gets really high marks (plus the price is reasonable and it's easy to find without finding a pet store...) so at least at this point, it seems to be a good thing.

                            Her personality on 30-Minute Meals (and her $30 a day series) was like nails on a chalkboard to me...but the couple of times I've caught her talk show, she's not nearly as annoying.

                            I have to give her full props -- she's not to my taste, but she has taught a hella lotta people how to cook real food from fresh ingredients, so I can't really fault her too much.

                        2. re: hill food

                          For weight gain, it's usually high fat content you'd want to look for.

                          Royal Canin is owned by M&M Mars, along with Nutro; they took it over about 5 or 6 years ago. I am sure there were changes in the recipe, since there also were in (75 year old family owned) Nutro.

                          1. re: coll

                            High fat might be too much for an emaciated dog. Plus, he'll likely get sick (really loose poop) from the fat. When I got my super skinny dog, dog food didn't help a lot. I fed him satin balls as meals 3x a day for two weeks. I also topped everything he ate with psyllium flakes to help gel the poops.

                            1. re: MsJoanne

                              Oatmeal or yogurt are also good for stomach issues, and a little easier to source.

                              As I said, there are dry foods especially formulated for this putting weight on, and I never heard about any stomach issues. They will run 20% fat as opposed to 5 or 10% in normal foods.