Weight gaining tips - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-03-2017, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Weight gaining tips

We recently rescued a German Shepherd puppy from pretty much unknown conditions, but took the risk and decided to fight for the little guy. We think he is around 10-12 weeks old, however he only weighs about 9 lbs.

He has unfortunately been diagnosed with Distemper several days ago, but is doing remarkably well after receiving the anti-serum and being on antibiotics.
The only issue we have right now is that he doesn't quite have an appetite to eat his regular kibble (Nutro puppy food / Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy food).

Because he is underweight to begin with and needs all the energy he can get to fight the virus, we have been syringe feeding him liquid puppy food and sweet potato puree. What are some high caloric foods that we can add to help him gain weight? So far I have raw eggs, cottage cheese, flaxseed oil and unsalted peanut butter on the list.

Are there any supplements that will increase his appetite?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-03-2017, 09:59 PM
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It may be that your puppy prefers the kibble to be wet, so moistening it with a broth may help his appetite.

There are some ideas in this older thread:


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-03-2017, 10:53 PM
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Raw goat's milk has been the life blood for many of my sick dogs.

CBD oil is a powerful all natural appetite stimulant (It is derived from hemp/medical marijuana, but low to no THC, after all!). It does however have the potential for drug interactions, so I suggest speaking with a vet before administering.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2017, 08:55 AM
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Agree with Voodo about RAW Goat's Milk:
*According to the Journal of American Medicine, “Goat milk is the most complete food known.” It contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, and fatty acids. In fact, the body can digest goat’s milk in 20 minutes. Having fat molecules one-fifth the size of those in cow’s milk makes it easily digestible and tolerable even for dogs with digestive issues.

"Goat milk helps to increase the pH of the blood stream because it is the dairy product highest in the amino acid L-glutamine. L-glutamine is an alkalinizing amino acid, often recommended by nutritionists." Answer's

Dr. Doug Knueven Post author
In general, I suggest 2 oz for pets under 20 pounds, 4 oz for pets 20-50 pounds and 6 oz for pets over 50 pounds. Remember, as you add the goat’s milk probiotic supplement to your pet’s diet you are adding lots of great nutrients and bacteria but also calories.

*"Goats that are pastured and grass fed in a low stress environment, free of antibiotics and free of GMO feeds will produce far better quality milk. Processing, such as pasteurization or spray drying, will also lower the nutritional value of the milk." DNM

You can purchase Raw Goat's Milk at a local Health Food Store (NOT GNC) or a Whole Foods Store.

Another idea would be "Fat Balls" or "Satin Balls"

*You may want to slightly cook the meat (instead of raw) because of his current diagnosis. Rinse off the cooked grease before mixing with other ingredients.

Fat Ball Recipe #2 - NON Grain
(you may want to cut this recipe in half)
10 pounds of Fatty Ground Meat such as Hamburger, Pork (pork should be frozen for two weeks before use), Chicken, Turkey or a mixture! Anything 20% fat or more)
1 pound of grated Cheddar Cheese
4 cans of Tuna Fish - drained
1 (18 oz) jar of peanut butter (make SURE that it does NOT contain a sugar substitute, especially Xylitol)
1 (12-16 oz) bottle of Unsulphered Molasses
1 block of Cream Cheese - softened
1 box of Plain Knox Gelatin (found by the Jello)
1 can of Pumpkin (No spices, just plain)
1 (24 oz) tub of full fat Cottage Cheese
8 oz of Dehydrated Potato Flakes - If you can't find these, PLAIN Instant Mashed Potatoes will work BUT……. READ Labels! Beware of Preservatives and other things that may be added such as BHA, citric acid and sodium bisulfate. The potatoes may include sodium acid pyrophosphate and dipotassium phosphate. Silicon dioxide may be added to prevent the potato flakes from forming clumps during storage. Instant mashed potatoes may include spices, salt and natural and artificial flavors, which could cause diarrhea. Here is an organic product: https://www.amazon.com/Edward-Sons-O...+potato+flakes
(8 ounces of fresh, mashed boiled potatoes would work too.)
You could look for the potato flakes and an Organic Molasses at the health food store.

Mix all of your ingredients together in a LARGE bowl, dish pan or pot. It's best to mix 2-3 ingredients at a time as it blends a little easier. After mixing together well, put into the fridge and chill for 30-40 minutes. Then take out of frig and roll into balls (a little smaller than a golf ball), place on cookie sheet and freeze. After frozen remove from pan and place balls in a freezer zip lock bag and return to freezer. Thaw before feeding.

Good luck with your pup and keep us posted!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2017, 12:53 PM
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I have been I would actually suggest you not try to put weight on fast. Go slowly. This is incredibly important for long term recovery.

The reason I say that is that in rescue nearly every time we've had a skinny pup that put on weight quickly once it got on great food, it ended up with panosteitis. Our vet works for lots of local rescues, and she said that's a common experience among the large breed rescues.

I actually wouldn't do any super high-calorie anything because of the pano risk. I would instead get an excellent quality large-breed puppy food. Fromm makes a good one, but there are others, and soak it in goats milk or bone broth to make it more appetizing. Wet (canned) food is also worth considering.

If kibble is totally off the table for this dog right now, I would also look to a dehydrated concentrated food like Ziwi Peak or Only Natural Pet Max Meat (both are available at onlynaturalpet.com). A small amount of this dehydrated food is equal to a large amount of meat, and it's very appetizing (like jerky) -- getting even a small scoop of it into the dog will mean serious nutrition reaches it. I've used bags of this expensive-but-good food as a "food of last resort."

Depending on your local options, you may also want to look into the instant supplements from the Honest Kitchen that are VERY convenient. They make an instant goat's milk powder with probiotic added, called Pro Bloom. You can add a a scoop of bovine colostrum powder to the mix (like Immune Tree 6 Hour Colostrum -- available on Amazon), and I think it's an excellent aid for very sick dogs. I've found the Pro Bloom plus colostrum is very appetizing to sick dogs. THK also makes an instant bone broth that many dogs love -- or you can make your own in the Crock Pot.

I also make meat balls for anorexic, convalescing dogs, but I do not feed them raw. These dogs are immuno compromised so the bacteria that a healthy dog can eat can be very bad for these sick dogs. You just don't know what's going to cause a problem when they're this sick, and the whole immune system needs to be working to fight the distemper.

I have shifted my thinking on meat ball ingredients over time and actually no longer want tons of fat in them because of pancreatitis risks, and the need for SLOW, steady weight gain. I've used fatty satin balls in rescue in the past, and had some conversations with our vet about them, and those conversations are what convinced me to ease up on the fat.

When I make meat balls for sick dogs, I use a mix of 9:1 good-quality ground beef to organ meat. Sometimes I'll do 8:2 since it's just a temporary food. I try to get chopped organ meat (liver and also kidney, if I can find it) in them not only for the big nutrient boost, but also for the aroma -- nothing attracts a sick dog to food quite like the smell of warm, cooked beef or chicken liver. I mince the organ meat, add it to the hamburger. Then I add in a bunch of organic oats, farmer's market yard eggs (with or without shells -- I'd probably leave them out for a puppy to avoid too much calcium if they're also eating kibble), molasses, and gelatin if I have it (or not). Depending on what's going on, I might add some targeted medicinal herbs or spices (like tumeric, if it's an older dog with arthritis). I roll them into meat balls, cover the baking dish, and then bake them at around 400F for "a while." I'll check them at 20 min. The time depends on the size of the meatballs, so there's no magic number.

I warm them up before serving so that there's lots of aroma -- using the dog's nose to get it to eat is half the battle with the anorexic ones.

If all else fails boil up some beef or chicken liver, and slice it up. I've not yet met a dog that wouldn't eat that. It's very rich, so don't give too much. Use it as an appetite stimulant. Save the cooking water to soak the kibble in, or just offer it to the dog to drink -- there's nutrition in that water, so don't toss it down the sink!

Last edited by Magwart; 11-04-2017 at 12:59 PM.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-04-2017, 02:14 PM
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Coconut cream paste is what we used on our Mega dog. Its really high in calories, great for weight gain and agrees with the tummy.


I would get your dog off Blue Buffalo dog food. Its not a very reliable or ethical company. You can google the complaints and numerous lawsuits. Smart dog for not wanting to eat that.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-14-2017, 05:57 AM
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Higher protein food + dyne. My puppy is 9 months old and 95-100lbs but still visibly thin with ribs showing. He's steadily gained 2-3lbs per week since he's been on the high protein food. I haven't given him any dyne for a few weeks but it has worked with all of my dogs. The food is: Victor Ultra Pro 42 Grain-Free Dry Dog Food.
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