Very underweight 8 month old pup - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
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Question Very underweight 8 month old pup

I adopted Maple from the SPCA a week ago, she is very underweight. She should be I am guessing at least 20# heavier. I need to find her adoption folder which lists her weight, but she is all ribs right now. The trainer approached me about her weight after class on Saturday as she was concerned. I am free feeding her the food she was being fed at the shelter, Taste of the Wild, Lamb but I feel I should have her on a puppy food. I did find ticks on her, not sure if they could have caused a problem somehow. She was wormed at the intake clinic, she was also spayed approx 3 weeks ago. I am adding fish oil to her food and also organic roasted chicken. I will take her into petco tomorrow and weigh her, I will also start a spreadsheet to track her weight gain.

Are there any specific things I should be concerned with? She is very active and acts healthy. She just has a high anxiety level since she was dumped by her previous caretaker and frets every minute over where I am and if I am leaving her. Her breathing is also very fast when she is sleeping/resting.

I found this info online, not sure if it is a correct guideline or not?
GSD Female 8 months 53 – 57 lbs / 24 – 26 kg

Thanks for any input!
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 12:31 AM
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Weight charts for a breed like GSD which can range from 45-120+ lbs is no different than saying a 12yr old girl should weigh 95-100 lbs without taking into account their height, build, genetics and rate of development (puberty). Any diet changes will take several weeks to show... I would think your trainer would be aware of this knowing you’ve only had her 1 week. She appears healthy and active... weigh her every other week and increase her food by a half cup if she isn’t gaining - also at two week intervals. My gut is that she’ll be fine. Almost all of my rescues ranging from 7 mo to a year have been thin until they recovered from shelter life.
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 10:35 AM
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Congrats on the new dog - she's quite pretty. So far as weight gain, I'd go for slow gain rather than fast growth. I'd go to feeding two or three meals a day rather than free feeding. Food always there is less interesting than food that is only down for a certain period and then goes away either after consumed or after ignored for x amount of time.

BTW If I feed a puppy puppy formula food, the pup gets pano from growing too fast. It's not supposed to happen but I've done a lot better feeding adult formula food.

My current youngest as a pup to about 4 yo looked like a gazelle instead of a dog - she was incredibly active (still is) and model-thin. She filled out at 4. You might have a pup with a similar metabolism.
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 10:49 AM
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I'd recommend feeding her a higher energy formula like ProPac puppy. It's a quality, affordable food with a good calorie content. TOTW is actually quite low in calories per cup.

She doesn't look super thin to me. You can run a tick panel to check for illness if you are concerned.

Adding chicken broth, or just water to the dry food to soak is often a good idea to keep her water intake up.

Also, just give her time. She's had a rough start and needs to decompress. You might be surprised to see how much she'll change and relax after 2- 4 weeks. The GSD I adopted was also super thin, nervous, and scared when I brought her home. It didn't take more than a month to bring out the wonderful, confident dog she was. She was a real find, and I don't know why anyone dumped her. Congrats on your addition. she is beautiful.
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 11:05 AM
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In our rescue, when we need to put weight on dogs, we have one very serious rule: GO SLOWLY. Fast weight gain can cause health problems, and in dogs that are still growing -- when they're severely underweight as youngsters, sudden bursts of nutrition and weight-gain often will set the dog up for panosteitis (a growing-pain disease in the long bones of the leg -- it's self-limiting, but very painful and can last for months). Slow, steady gain is the goal -- and with some dogs we do weekly weigh-ins at the vet to monitor it.

The food we use for severely underweight dogs is Diamond Extreme Athlete (around 470 kcal/cup, 32% protein, and 25% fat):

It's made by the same company that makes TOTW, so the likelihood of it agreeing with your girl is high. We've also sometimes used puppy food, but I like the results of the DEA much better --it has agreed with the digestive system of the dogs we've had on it, it's palatable, and it supports the kind of weight gain we're targeting. It's helped us bring quite a few dogs back to health from severe starvation (skeletal appearance) when they first came to us. It's also very reasonably priced (about $40/bag for a 40# bag). My current adolescent foster dog was about 15 pounds under weight when we got her and had been on an RX Royal Canin "sensitive system" food (very low fat) prior to me getting her, due to persistent diarrhea -- she handled the switch very well and actually had better, firm poop on the DEA than on the RC vet-suppliied food...and her coat is shinier, her muscle tone is better...just a more vibrant dog.
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Last edited by Magwart; 05-14-2019 at 11:16 AM.
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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
Weight charts for a breed like GSD which can range from 45-120+ lbs is no different than saying a 12yr old girl should weigh 95-100 lbs without taking into account their height, build, genetics and rate of development (puberty).

^This. Honestly, I think height/weight charts may do more harm than good. Is my puppy too big/too small, overweight/underweight is one of the most popular questions on the board! And it's almost always based on whether their puppy fits within the parameters of a height weight chart for the age of their dog.

The condition of the dog is a far better indicator of proper weight, regardless of age. General guidelines are only ever going to apply to some dogs. If she's overly skinny, (you can easily feel every rib when you run your hand down her side) she's probably underweight but I doubt it's by 20 pounds, just based on that one photo. If she weighs less than the chart says she should but you can't feel all her ribs, she's probably not underweight.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-14-2019, 12:12 PM
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Can you post a picture that shows her standing from the side and one from above (standing)? Realize that most pet dogs are overweight in the US and that we have forgotten what a healthy weight looks like.
To me she looks good and very pretty.
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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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I was able to weigh her yesterday, she weighs 50.4 pounds. I bought her Blue Buffalo large breed puppy food, perhaps I'll mix it with my Iams adult so she does not grow too quickly? I had growing pains and I still remember how painful it was as a child. I certainly do not want her having them She is super healthy and active. I'll get some pics and post them for you so you can see her from the top. The folks at the pet store seemed to think she was fine.
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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 12:15 PM
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Yes, she doesn't look super thin. You can't see any ribs with the way she's lying.

One of my rescues was a 5 year old female, 26" tall at the withers, that weighed 35 lbs. Now, THAT'S super thin! The vet didn't think she was going to live, but once she knew someone loved her, and was getting decent food (Pro Plan Active Dog) she did just fine.
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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old 05-15-2019, 01:52 PM
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She's beautiful. And she doesn't look that thin in the picture, granted she's laying down. I agree with those that say go slow on the weight gain. You don't want to overload her with too many calories and rapid growth. Go slow and increase accordingly. She's better off on the thin side at this age than fat.
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